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How to Successfully Collaborate With Your Developer on a Build to Suit

It’s widely known that collaboration is the key to success in business. Yet, little attention is often paid to how to ensure that collaboration is successful.

With a lot of moving parts and changing elements, collaborating when planning a build to suit development can be far from straightforward. Yet, the process is unique because of the established relationships between commercial developer and tenant, and the evolution of that relationship throughout the course of the project.

Let’s take a look at some keys to ensuring successful collaboration in the build to suit process.

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Clear objectives up front

From design specifications to construction parameters to rent and timing of completion, there should be a mutual understanding between developer and tenant of what is expected. Establishing clear objectives, especially in the early stages, will help you avoid delays on the path to completion of the project.

Additionally, collaboration is key to establishing the full scope of all federal, state, and municipal approvals and permits that will be required not only to build the building but to fit it out and utilize it for the tenant’s purposes.

This process may, but not always, start with a project RFP.

 

Avoiding disproportionately negative provisions

Avoiding requests for concessions that are disproportionately burdensome for either party helps to facilitate a collaborative process and timely completion. Compromise is key to cutting down on project delays and dilemmas.

For example, the tenant shouldn’t expect the developer to fix a rent for a building that hasn’t been designed, yet the developer should still assure the tenant that it will get a fair rent. Or, as another example, the developer shouldn’t expect the tenant to concede all influence over building design or vice versa. The tenant should have significant input, but also respect the developer’s fundamental interest in the project design.

 

Proper reporting documentation

Establishing appropriate reporting and communication can be vital to getting a project completed successfully and on time. For example, during the approvals process and throughout any public hearings, the developer will be the applicant for all approvals but the tenant should be available to provide timely information required in order to complete the application submissions.

The ultimate success of any such process is a function of whether the developer and the tenant can communicate well and work together effectively, particularly in the early stages. Having the right information sharing and communication protocols will help the developer do their job effectively and efficiently, while still providing the tenant with regular updates. This may involve weekly reports with pictures and documentation during the construction phase.

 

Patience and flexibility

You’ll likely face a number of hurdles in the build to suit process. From potential site issues to changing design requirements to governmental approvals, the developer and the tenant will need to be flexible and cooperate in many issues that arise in connection with the development process.

For example, the extent to which the tenant’s plans and proposed use will result in the requirement of variances in order for the project to proceed needs to be evaluated against the realistic ability to obtain the required relief. This is where each party needs to be flexible in order to minimize and navigate obstacles.


Creating thorough lines of communication and mutual understanding of overall project expectations can help establish a successful build to suit plan for both the developer and tenant. Additionally, creating lasting partnerships in the development process can make your company’s overall expansion plans go smoothly.

Tags: Build to Suit Commercial Real Estate Development Process

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