Month: March 2015

Walls Coverings Go Digital!

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Walls. They can be used as boundaries or limitations or, as mentioned in my last blog, they can be used to encourage big idea generation, creativity and innovation. But have you ever thought of your walls literally speaking for your business?

As outrageous as that may seem, it is very possible to give your walls a voice, so to speak, through the use of digital walls and digital wall coverings.

What are digital walls?

Simply put, digital walls are specialized wall coverings onto which digital images and/or videos from a projector, for example, are played. With the use of digital technology, your walls can visually and audibly inform employees and visitors about your company, its products and services; sing a company slogan; or provide an active or interactive décor pattern to set a particular corporate ambiance.

Some digital walls, however, can also be static. A static digital wall, better referred to as a digital wall covering, is a printable wall material which has a digital photo printed on it as its main design. The wall covering is usually made up of a textured material such as vinyl, polyester, Terralon or even grass cloth. The photo could be generic as a nature scene which could augment your current office design, or could be as specific as your corporate logo—you choose.  With a digital wallcovering, your digital picture can “speak” a thousand words about your company.

Applied using typical wallpaper techniques, both digital walls and digital wall coverings can either augment your current office design or fully engage an onlooker into your corporate world in a way that no regular wallpaper can.

So, if you are wanting to scream that your company is more creative, more innovative than your competitors and is paving the way to the future, then let your walls do the talking. Give them a voice with use of digital walls and/or digital wall coverings.

Walls and Wall Coverings That Can Expand Your Company’s Horizons

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If creative thinking, big-idea generation and collaboration are strong elements you wish to introduce or enhance within your organization’s corporate culture, don’t allow yourself or your collaborative team to hit a wall. Instead let them write on it!

Designers have recently developed wall coverings that will allow your team to write on your walls without compromising the professional image of your business.

Introducing the dry erase wall.


Already existing in newer, trendier conference rooms and hotels, the dry erase wall can be created in one of two ways. One is with the application of specially engineered gloss paint, available in a variety of colours, which dries into a hard surface, so hard that dry erase markers and erasers can be used on it. The second is a dry erase vinyl wall covering which is applied to your existing wall much like a peel and stick wallpaper. Both applications are fairly economical.

If dry erase walls don’t fit your corporate image or culture, then you can consider turning your walls into chalkboard walls.

Similar to the dry erase wall, the chalkboard wall can be applied either in paint form or as a vinyl peel and stick wall covering. The paint is more of a specially engineered flat paint that when dry allows one to use a variety of chalks and chalk erasers on it. Both the paint and vinyl applications are available in black or green.

Both types of walls have their advantages.

For one, they are limitless and flexible in size and colour. Your dry erase or chalkboard walls can be as high, wide and long as your existing walls. They are available in a variety of colours so they can easily blend in with your corporate colours. These wall coverings can also be applied on multiple walls, which could encourage your team the think big enough to fill your walls with new, creative and innovative ideas anytime the inspiration hits and anywhere the wall coverings are applied.

In addition, both types of wall coverings can be specially engineered to have multiple uses. Both the dry erase and chalkboard paint and vinyl wall coverings also come in magnetic form. This means that when applied, the walls not only can be written on, but magnet objects can also be applied to the walls to help emphasize and idea or concept. Furthermore, dry erase walls in lower gloss forms can also serve as projection screens, taking presentations to a whole new level.

So, take creativity and idea generation to a new horizon. Consider adding dry erase or chalkboard wall coverings to your office design.

REITs’ Fight to Reduce Office Space Vacancies

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Target is exiting. Blackberry has downsized. And with the office space vacancy rate being the highest it has been in several years, office REITS are getting desperately creative.

In some ways, it is no surprise that, despite public and media expectations, REITS are making every effort to attract potential tenants to their available and soon-to-be available office spaces without making any drastic changes to the spaces themselves or their lease rates. Instead, they are getting creative in promoting their available office spaces by simply advertising the added value or “perks” of the office spaces themselves. The most common added value cards they pull out are the “transportation” and “flexible office space” cards.

For example, REITS with office spaces in the Toronto’s Airport Corporate Centre area, which is where Target’s Canadian offices are currently located, promote easy access to and from the airport and other public transportation through shuttle services. Other office spaces located in Oakville and even Kitchener-Waterloo would promote close proximity and easy access to major highways. The promise of new inner-city rail systems, such as the light rail transit system (LRT) scheduled to be active in 2017 in the Waterloo region and the one currently under construction in Mississauga are also big features put out by the REITs to get those office spaces filled. Other office space locations that may or may not pull the “Transportation” card are advertised as open spaces which will allow tenants to easily create the office environment that best serves their corporate image and needs.

Is it working? Well, according to some REITS, the strategies are generating interest in their vacant office spaces, and newer spaces are filling up, but sealing the deals will be based primarily on what potential tenants actually want out of an office space and what they see as the best bang for their buck.

Will lease rates eventually be reduced? I think that given the tenacity of the REITs, that option would be the absolute last resort for them to consider.

Could Target’s Exodus Significantly Effect Commercial Real Estate Lease Rates?

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It was all over the news in January.   Big chain American retailer, Target, announced its plan to exit out of Canada. That means the close of 133 stores, the loss of 17,600 jobs and the anticipation of approximately 20 million sq ft of commercial real estate across Canada becoming vacant. The question remains:  Will Target’s mass exodus affect commercial real estate lease rates in the Canada?

Well, let’s look at the possibilities.

Other commercial or retail companies may jump at the chance to expand their businesses into some or all of those vacant spaces, paying the same lease rate Target currently pays. News has it that some large stores like Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaw’s and Metro are considering taking over approximately 55 spots accumulatively of the 133 soon-to-be vacant locations. Fitness companies like Good Life Fitness and possibly some other large fitness clubs may consider expanding into some spots as well. If all those Target locations are filled with other commercial players, then lease rates would be minimally effected if at all.

However, Target locations are, in general, large and currently only attractive to larger commercial or retail companies that may be interested in expanding into locations that best fit their “target” markets and budgets. Since not all locations may fit their criteria, there is the possibility of many of the 133 Target locations being left vacant.

Commercial Real Estate Investments companies have taken the above into consideration and have posed a possible solution.   Those that own the Target locations may consider reconstructing the sites into several smaller retail units in order to make the commercial site more attractive for smaller retail companies. This would give an opportunity for commercial real estate companies to lease the smaller units at higher leasing rates.

The commercial real estate companies that have not considered the above as an option may find themselves with a fight on their hands. Co-tenants of some Target locations, particularly in malls and plazas, could take this opportunity to re-negotiate their leases knowing that the current lease rate for the Target spaces are at least 50% cheaper than those of other spaces. This could drive commercial space lease rates downwards.

So, what will happen with commercial lease rates after Target leaves Canada? Only time, tenant and commercial real estate activity will tell.