Beck Ventures’ Scott Beck On Opening A Mixed-Use Development During A Pandemic
When Beck Ventures broke ground on the Trophy Club Town Center with plans to open in the spring of 2020, the firm had no idea tenants would find themselves in the midst of a pandemic, trying to finish build-outs on their restaurants and stores at a time when they could not enter the premises.
When the pandemic hit in March, the Trophy Club Town Center was ready to open and just weeks away from a grand opening that would christen the mixed-use development. The entire project will eventually house 250 high-end apartments, 50K SF of office, 60K SF of retail, an Aloft Hotel and 39 luxury townhomes.
“They were building out their [interior] spaces when everything shut down,” Beck Ventures CEO Scott Beck said of his restaurant and retail tenants. “It became important for us to be able to give tenants assurances that we would work with them.”
Beck said he now anticipates the grand opening will take place in the fourth quarter, with two tenants currently up and running and the rest opening at staggered dates throughout the next four to five months. Beck said occupancy will reach somewhere around 80% in the fourth quarter.
But to keep tenants from losing money on their tenant improvements and breaching existing lease agreements, Beck Ventures immediately connected with each and every tenant and offered them a reprieve on contractual guidelines that often require tenants to open their doors by a certain date or fall into default.
“The most important component was giving them assurances that they could keep building out and that they wouldn’t actually have to open,” Beck said.
Beck Ventures was concerned that tenants building out space would become fearful if they felt a mandatory pandemic shutdown would force them to breach tenant-landlord agreements, putting their investments at risk.
“A lot of it was just massaging the language in the contract to keep up with the times," Beck said.
Beck’s advice for dealing with tenants in a build-out environment is communicate quickly and get to the heart of the real issues impacting tenants.
“We went to the tenant and listened to them instead of dictating to them what would be an appropriate way to open,” Beck said. “The moral of this story for the Trophy Club Town Center as a landlord is, we chose to work directly with those tenants as the center was opening, in order for it to be a win-win for everybody.”
The center has two tenants up and running and a few more with summer opening dates. By the fourth quarter, a majority of tenants will be operating on the premises weather and pandemic permitting, Beck said.