Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast

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August 4, 2021
VCREP #13: The Evaluation of the Office Space with Drew Ratcliffe

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Over the past year and a half, the world has seen many changes… but is the office space one of them? According to Drew Ratcliffe it is.

This week, Cory welcomes Drew Ratcliffe of And-Co, a new all-in-one, multi-level, office community, complete with a wellness studio, restaurant, and event space. Drew shares his vision of what he feels the future of office space in Vancouver will look like, while introducing his latest venture, And-Co. More than just another shared office space, Drew believes he will be able to offer potential tenants a world class experience.

Whether you’re a business looking for new space or you have outgrown your home office, this could be the episode you have been waiting for!

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m the third generation of The Arpeg Group, a family owned and operated business in Vancouver. We’ve been on this furious growth trend over the last five years and our fourth generation is right at our heels.

What is And-Co?

And-Co is a stand alone brand within our group. It’s a hospitality offering. We recognized a shift in the office space about 10 years ago and And-Co is the organic development of the experiences that we have had. We realized the market has changed and a shared boutique office is something we wanted to deliver. That’s what And-Co is. It’s a hospitality offering that delivers an experience and is for companies who believe their people are their greatest asset.

Attracting and retaining great talent is hard. Covid has rapidly accelerated the growth of flexibility and remote work. There’s a massive power shift. The story is far from written and there are a lot of models out there. It comes down to the fact that we have to deliver to our team and our staff. And-Co delivers that flexibility and choice in a personal space.

Who is the target audience for And-Co?

Space as a service is where we have to go. And-Co is 95% private offices. It isn’t renting a desk and coming and going, never knowing who is beside you. This is for companies who need an office and four walls but whose team needs more than that – amenities and services that allow a team to be more than it can be. We’re attracting companies who put their people first. The office is another tool in your HR playbook.

What is And-Co offering over and above the space and basic office experience?

And-Co is more than a workspace. We’re a tailored shared office solution. A perfect day for me at And-Co: I workout at the office at 5am where trainers are available and there’s first class equipment. I grab a smoothie at the restaurant right next door to the gym. I shower at a well-designed facility and then head up to the office. I can take the stairs and meet and greet my colleagues on the way.

For me, I’m an introvert and need to focus to get my work done. Our office is private and enclosed; it’s open once I’m within my own office but private for our team. When I need to do my own thing, I’ll walk down the hall into a sound-proof booth to get my work done. If I’m doing a podcast interview, I can book a content creation room with Cory coming in for the interview. After work, I can head to the restaurant for dinner and a glass of wine before jumping in my car downstairs.

What kind of footprint does And-Co have?

We’ve taken over four floors, which is about 40,000 square feet. We’ve got 4-16 person offices and there are 19 of those.

How does someone get involved in And-Co?

Yes, you can get a hold of our Director of Sales through our website. Most people who are calling now want to book a tour and see the space. That’s a critical path. There’s nothing like this in Vancouver. This is more than a coworking space. It’s four floors of a community that offers everything to its members, without being overreaching or cramped.

What was the inspiration behind And-Co?

It was very organic. We’ve owned this site in Coal Harbour for 30 or so years. In our own office, we started seeing that the conventional office model isn’t what is going to attract talent. We were living the experience and realized that space matters. We started seeing other tenants in our building want to use our boardroom and it taught us how people use space.

As owners and operators of space, we realized the old 5-10 year lease days are gone. We’ve always believed our tenants are our business partners and they’re key to our success. So the hospitality piece wasn’t a stretch for us; we’ve always been operating within that framework.

What will it cost for a company of four people to move into And-Co?

Generally speaking, let’s call it $1500/month/seat. But it’s more about understanding what this company needs. Do they need a bigger footprint even though they only have four people? Are they looking to expand? Are there some members who don’t want to come into the office? So we come in with flexible terms; it’s a 12-month membership agreement. We want to help our members grow their companies and be successful. If you grow from four to eight people in a year and you’re in a conventional space, you have to squeeze in desks until your 10 year lease is up. If that happens at And-Co, you can sit down with us and we can figure out a bigger space, more meeting room time, etc.

How has covid affected And-Co?

We’ve always had a focus with And-Co on hospitality and wellness. Pre-covid, those were nice features but post-covid, they’re must-haves. So things like operable windows, natural light, interconnected stairs, lots of foliage, etc. were part of the plan. Covid helped us focus on our systems and improve on what we were already doing.

Had we been launching conventional space, I would’ve lost sleep. We have a full time cleaning staff and an IT team on board. Covid has accelerated our need for those things. Culture is still key and this is the right time for our offering.

What is next for And-Co?

The Arpeg track record supports us being here for generations. We’re committed to what we’re doing. We’ve looked at other sites and the five year plan would see us having a few more locations in Western Canada. I’m bullish that this is the right time and the right concept.

What kind of occupancy are you anticipating?

We anticipate that we’ll be full. Our soft launch is in November 2021 and we have six offices spoken for right now. People who have been working out of their garages are ready to set up some kind of office arrangement that isn’t a 5-10 year lease. They need the kind of space we’re offering. I’m optimistic. It’s going to take some time but the Vancouver core is coming back. The shift is on in terms of space as a service.

What advice do you have for people getting into commercial real estate or the office space?

Find someone who is doing something that you like and find a way to get their attention. Whether that’s volunteering or mentoring, test drive the experience you want with a mentor or coach first.

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Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast

For all the curious minds interested in commercial real estate investing, grab a coffee and pull up a chair because we have exclusive stories and tips from commercial real estate brokers, investors, developers, economists, urban planners, and everyone in-between. From the successes and failures to the motivations and lessons learned, the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast is your insight into commercial real estate in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and beyond.

What's the best real estate market to invest in? What are the commercial real estate asset classes and property types? Hosted by Cory Wright, founder of William Wright Commercial, and co-hosts Adam and Matt Scalena of the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, our podcast opens the door to real estate investing for everyone from beginner investors to experienced real estate professionals. New episodes are released every Tuesday. Follow the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or your favourite streaming platforms.

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This communication is not intended to cause or induce breach of an existing agency agreement. E&OE: All information contained herein is from sources deemed reliable, and have no reason to doubt its accuracy; however, no guarantee or responsibility is assumed thereof, and it shall not form any part of future contracts. Properties are submitted subject to errors and omissions and all information should be carefully verified. All measurements quoted herein are approximate.