How Many Prospects Does Tavani Have for Switchyards?
The man who started Scoutmob has jumped into CRE and already has a waiting list on his debut project, just in time for Atlanta Office Boom: The Future of the Workplace on Oct 29 at Twelve Hotels. (Register here!)
“It's not a real estate play, but we're deep in real estate,” says Michael Tavani, a local startup tech guru responsible for Scoutmob who is under contract to buy a circa 1920's office building at 151 Spring St and transform it into a tech incubator hub. Called The Switchyards Building, Michael – who is one of our key panelists at the event – already has a list of 480 startup heads who have plopped $50 each to be a “founding member” once the facility opens next year (culled through its website). “Not all those people are going to move in,” he says. “Roughly right now, we're about five times over-subscribed.” Michael says the space will be dedicated to true tech startups of anywhere from three to eight employees focused on consumer and design industries paying on a month-to-month basis, with 10% of the tenant roster being filled with companies he and his investors will have an interest in (including Slingput.com).
Michael admits there's a lot of blur when it comes to the concept of incubators, where some are essentially just office suites. And the price has to be right for the model to work—while at the same time being in a desirable neighborhood that will attract a finicky, tech savvy crowd. (That makes his Spring Street location ideal, but rules out Buckhead and Alpharetta.) Michael has the 20k SF building under contract with Atlanta Legal Aid for $930k, and he plans to renovate it to get it up to incubator speed. At $100/SF, Michael says the cost is “perfect. Any more than that, and the numbers start to squeeze.” There are places that are cool for that crowd but too expensive for his model. (Michael would've liked the Westside, but it's already built out.)