The world of commercial real estate can be both exciting and demanding.
Goldy Singh was well aware of the highs and lows of the business when his firm, Golpro Holdings, acquired its first properties in 2014.
Singh founded the company with the intention of ensuring he offered tenants an exemplary experience, and success at delivering on that commitment has led Golpro to increase its holdings to now include owning and/or managing 10 properties totalling almost 250,000 square feet, in addition to a yet-to-be-developed 110-acre parcel of land. In the past two years, Golpro has expanded from just 10 tenants to 87 individual businesses under its property management umbrella.
“When I got into this industry it was with the vision of holding the real estate long term,” says Singh. “Our philosophy has always been to find ways to create efficiencies within each building, to provide enhancements for our tenants that also save on operating costs.”
“Our philosophy is to find ways to create efficiencies within each building, to provide enhancements for our tenants that also save on operating costs.”
To execute this strategy, Singh recruited Bill Sioulas as Golpro’s director of real estate. Bringing decades of hands-on experience in commercial leasing, market analysis, marketing and construction project management, Sioulas has a particular knack for driving expenses down while maximizing quality.
Sioulas has been instrumental in Golpro’s growth and portfolio diversification as well as an impressive tenant retention rate. By placing particular emphasis on health and safety improvements, Sioulas and his team have helped Golpro achieve the distinction of being one of the city’s most respected commercial landlords.
With a balanced mix of retail, office, commercial and restaurant tenants, Golpro excels at the delicate balancing act of meeting – and usually exceeding – the unique needs of each occupant.
As Golpro continually looks for new acquisitions, they have a twofold strategy. Location is key, but of equal importance is identifying enhancements to improve the building’s performance.
It’s an approach that worked particularly well with the iconic Mercury Court building, on the edge of the ByWard Market. In less than two years, the firm has turned the building around, creating some of Ottawa’s most beautiful, functional offices that capitalize on an advantageous location.
“Goldy and I could see this building had tremendous potential, but was suffering from years of neglect and underutilization,” says Sioulas. “We quickly assessed what we could do to improve the property and transform it into a prime, Class-AA location.”
The work included removing asbestos, installing new ceilings and converting to dimmable LED lighting including motion-activated lights in common areas. Golpro hired engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to prepare specifications for enhanced heating and air conditioning, which now provides a safer, more comfortable environment for tenants, at a reduced operating cost.
Further enhancements have included upgrades to fire safety systems as well as the implementation of a comprehensive building-wide recycling program, where there previously had been none. In addition, Golpro purchased a micro-compactor so tenants now pay less for garbage removal services.
Ongoing renovations at Mercury Court include high-speed elevators, upgrades to the washrooms and lobbies as well as additional exterior lighting.
“As we embark on the process of renovating each area of the property, we take time to find out how our tenants like to work and what kind of employees they are trying to attract,” says Sioulas. “This kind of dialogue is very important to us; we want to be sure that our tenants will perceive upgrades as beneficial and useful.”
As a result of a tenant request, Mercury Court now boasts a secure bicycle storage room and adjacent showers to facilitate environmentally friendly commuting options.
Golpro is also in the midst of creating a 60-person rooftop terrace.
“A lot of our tenants are millennials and offering a place to step outside, enjoy unparalleled views and host client events is a real plus for everyone,” says Singh.
Other new amenities include additional security cameras, consolidated window washing contracts, and a weekly sidewalk power washing service to clear away the weekend’s debris that is an unavoidable byproduct of a downtown environment.
“For all our buildings, our approach to health, safety and cleanliness is holistic,” says Sioulas. “We want to ensure our tenants have as pleasant and comfortable an experience as we can possibly provide.”
With TripAdvisor as an anchor tenant, plus the offices of the Embassy of Sweden and renowned architecture firm Barry Padolsky Associates Inc., the revamped Mercury Court is rapidly filling up.
“We do have one large space – just over 10,500 square feet – available on the second floor,” says Sioulas. “The space can be subdivided for up to three tenants, although if one firm takes at least 7,000 square feet, they will be able to add their name to the exterior of the building.”
Sioulas adds that since the base building has already been upgraded, it will be easy to customize the available space.
“For new tenants, we can develop a layout plan tailored to their requirements at no cost, giving them the opportunity to understand exactly what their numbers will be with a three, five or 10-year lease,” he says.
“We also have interior designers and architects we can recommend; in the case of Mercury Court, we are particularly fortunate to have Barry Padolsky here. His team has tremendous experience with heritage buildings and does great work in terms of maximizing spaces. Their own offices are only 1,400 square feet, yet they have fit so much into that footprint.”
For each of its buildings, Golpro strives to create workspaces that tenants are proud to call their own. At Mercury Court, the building has become a real drawing card.
“Everyone wants to hire the best people they can, but it’s a lot easier with an ideal atmosphere,” says Sioulas. “We are confident that it is very easy for our tenants to show prospective employees that they will enjoy working in a great environment in a fantastic location.”
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