August 18, 2020; KGW-8 NBC (Portland, OR)
Last week, NPQ covered the story of two theaters that moved in together without the benefit of merger. We expect this to be only one of many space-related stories we will see over the next few months, as nonprofits try to measure their real-space costs in the context of the need to cut expenses and the results of recent forced experiments with remote work.
That said, between one thing and another, we may soon be seeing a buyer’s or renter’s market in commercial real estate, as some businesses and nonprofits close and others move to working wholly or partially remotely. In Portland, Oregon, for instance, local real estate agents are far from saying they’re watching an exodus from downtown, but they do say that some organizations plan to use far less physical space, with some of those subletting or trying to sell—even if that market is not exactly optimal right now.
Even those who only recently invested heavily in their locations are facing this; OCHIN, a national health nonprofit with 40,200 square feet of space, for instance, will attempt to sell its property bought for $14 million just three years ago.
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“What we’ve learned since then is a fully virtual model suits us well,” says OCHIN CEO Abbey Sears. “It allows us to offer more flexibility for our staff and more nimble, regional support for our members across multiple time zones.”
Over in Bellevue, Washington, member-owned co-op REI plans to sell its brand-new and unsullied campus in favor of a remote work format. This will allow the outdoor retail giant to “lean into remote working as an engrained, supported and normalized model.”
The campus, construction on which started just two years ago, was billed as the “most outdoorsy HQ ever.” The price on that campus has not yet been revealed, but it is likely to have some competition in the available properties department that may depress sales prices and rents.
NPQ would love to hear from nonprofits that are struggling with these kinds of space considerations. Let us know here what your thoughts are.—Ruth McCambridge