Turning a warehouse into a hockey rink: Creativity is the key in today's real estate world

For my day job as editor of Midwest Real Estate News I recently wrote a story about a construction company in St. Louis turning an office/warehouse building into an ice hockey rink. The company, ARCO Construction, rented out about 30,000 square feet of their facility to a youth hockey team. Of course, this being a terrible commercial real estate market, the company still has about 18,000 square feet to lease.

Still, having 30,000 square feet off the books is a nice feeling.

John Komlos, who is a vice president with ARCO, told me that his company never would have considered the hockey rink idea if the economy and the commercial real estate market were better. That’s because transforming the space into a hockey rink wasn’t an easy job. ARCO had to move several large columns to make room for the rink. They then had to hire a company based in Little Canada, Minn., to actually install the rink.

Again, though, taking on the extra work was worth eliminating 30,000 square feet of space.

Now, this actually does have something to do with Chicago residential real estate. Sellers today have to be every bit as creative as ARCO was to move their home listings, especially if they’re trying something daunting like selling a Chicago condo in downtown.

It’s why builders are offering some great incentives. You can read this Chicago Tribune story by Jeffrey Steele, from last month, if you want to see just how amazing the incentives are. One builder was offering buyers a $10,000 cash-back incentive. That’s pretty incredible.

It’s also why one real estate agent told me that sellers today have to be willing to compromise. If buyers want the floors in the living room refinished, sellers better do it. Otherwise, the buyers will simply move on to the next unsold condo on their list. There are certainly enough of them.

If you’re putting your home on the market, remember ARCO Construction and its ice rink. Sure, it might be located a long six-hour drive away in St. Louis, but it provides plenty of lessons on the value of creativity.

Here’s a little slideshow, too, of the new FSI Shark Tank in St. Louis.

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