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3 CRE Q&A: Wright Heerema Architects’ Roger Heerema on Spec Suites

Office building owners are converting hard-to-lease square footage into spec suites, as a way to attract start-ups and other companies who need move-in-ready space. A step up from coworking, these built-out office suites are appealing to companies who need their own dedicated office space, without the time or expense of managing the build-out.

Connect Media asked Chicago-based Wright Heerema Architects’ Roger Heerema to address some of the common considerations and issues that come up, as spec suites grow in popularity in our latest 3 CRE Q&A.

Q: Why should building owners consider adding or redesigning spec suites as part of a building repositioning?
Spec suites are an ideal solution for startups and smaller companies who need move-in ready space. These built-out office suites are appealing to companies who need their own dedicated space, without the time or expense of managing the build-out. For building owners, transforming raw space into a move-in ready workplace is a great way to attract tenants who may have trouble visualizing how they would fit in the building. This strategy works particularly well with historically-challenged space to lease.

Q: How do you make a spec suite stand out in a sea of office spaces that all resemble each other?
By their very nature, spec suites are designed to appeal to a broad universe of potential tenants. That’s why it’s important to create “wow” moments in highly-visible areas. Providing a memorable suite that stands out from the numerous locations the potential tenant tours in one day, such as a cozy nook for casual conversations or a bright café that functions as alternative workspace, can help differentiate the suite from others in the market. Visually-compelling space is important, but don’t overlook the importance of designing functional, flexible spaces that an organization can visualize their employees using.

Q: How do you keep build-out costs down, while maintaining a commitment to high design?
The design may tailor to a particular tenant and building type, leaning toward the most likely tenant mix that has been targeted.

Careful section of finishes and design elements are critical to balance the budget and impact of the space. The use of more pedestrian materials in an elevated way allows the elements to feel special, as well as the suite.

Additionally, providing marketing material to show a fully-furnished design, maximum density and what the suite can yield will help lower initial investment. This approach builds some flexibility by not fully furnishing the suite, while also allowing the tenant to brand their space more easily.

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For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser

Photo courtesy of Wright Heerema Architects. © 2018 Josh Pabst Photo.


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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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