Creative CRE Solutions Help Satisfy High Demand for Suitable Space Across U.S.
October 06, 2021
NEW YORK – Amid the growing popularity of charter schools, Transwestern Real Estate Services (TRS), in collaboration with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance), is advising commercial property owners on how vacant commercial space can be positioned for charter school use. Existing real estate, when thoughtfully repurposed, can help both property owners and tenants achieve their goals in an environment where demand for educational space is high and vacancy across some markets and product types continues to plague property owners.
“Charter schools are experiencing record demand nationwide but are challenged with the lack of quality product available for their specific needs,” said Casey Noel, Vice President of Transwestern’s Nonprofit Advisory Group. “Adaptive reuse of vacant space for educational purposes offers a creative solution that can financially benefit property owners while simultaneously giving charter schools more options from which to operate.”
The fastest-growing sector of U.S. public education, there were 7,400 charter schools nationwide serving more than 3 million students in 2020, with California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and New York accounting for approximately half of enrollment. Repositioning assets for charter school use, as has successfully been done with office, industrial and retail properties, can offer a remedy for pandemic-induced vacancies.
Noel, in A Quick Guide for Owners and Developers: Is Your Site Charter School Ready?, highlights key site characteristics that should be considered, including zoning that permits school use As-of-Right; access to multiple forms of transportation; lot size that is larger than 10,000 square feet; “short and squat” building massing; and building layout to accommodate essential programming.
“These factors are incredibly important to our member schools,” said Mark Medema, Managing Director for the National Alliance’s Charter School Facility Center. “If these conditions can be satisfied, it behooves commercial property owners and developers to consider charter schools as tenants given their preferred lease term and steady source of funding.”
Charter schools typically seek long-term leases and are funded on a per-pupil basis by the government, making them attractive, low-risk tenants. Oftentimes, they qualify for Floor Area Ratio bonuses, allowing for an increase in the building space relative to the size of the parcel of land, thus increasing the profitability of the site.
“Not every site will meet the needs of a charter school tenant,” said Noel. “But there are a surprising number of ways to adapt physical space to create an inspiring learning environment for both educators and students.”
In addition to advising landlords on readying properties for charter school use, Transwestern has extensive experience working with charter schools to build custom solutions that are aligned with brand and purpose. Most recently, Transwestern represented Art in Motion, a Chicago-based charter school, in the purchase of a 110,000-square-foot property. Earlier this year, Transwestern represented Zeta Charter Schools in a 124,000-square-foot transaction for its new location in New York City’s Inwood neighborhood.
About Transwestern Real Estate Services
Transwestern Real Estate Services (TRS) adds valu e for investors, owners and occupiers of all commercial property types through a comprehensive perspective and by providing solutions grounded in sound market intelligence. Part of the Transwestern companies, the firm applies a consultative approach to Agency Leasing, Asset Services, Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions, Capital Markets, and Research & Investment Analytics.
The privately held Transwestern companies have been delivering a higher level of personalized service and innovative real estate solutions since 1978. Through an integrated, customized approach that begins with good ideas, the firm drives value for clients across commercial real estate services, development, and investment management. Operating from 33 U.S. offices, Transwestern extends its platform capabilities globally through strategic alliance partners whose unique geographic, cultural, and business expertise fuels creative solutions. Learn more at transwestern.com and @Transwestern.