As we have discussed in previous blog posts, Denver is facing an affordability crisis. The average market rate for Class B office space in Denver was $21.59 per square foot as of the end of Q3, up from $21.45 per square foot for Class B space as of the close of Q2 2016 (NGKF). Despite the difficulty of finding affordable commercial space in Denver, the need for services delivered by nonprofits in our community is increasing.
The Nonprofit Space Survey, published earlier this year, indicated that many community-serving organizations are searching for new or additional space to facilitate service expansion in this challenging market. Following on this Survey, we have completed one-on-one interviews with nonprofits throughout the Denver Metro Area to assess their space needs and challenges. A large majority of nonprofits we interviewed through this program expressed a plan to grow their organization in size by at least one full-time employee over the next year to provide crucial community services, with some organizations planning to grow by as many as five full-time employees. In addition to plans for full-time employee growth, nonprofits rely heavily on the support of volunteers. One organization located in Denver that supports teachers throughout the State of Colorado relies on over 4,700 volunteer hours annually. This growing workforce leads to a greater need for workspace, storage, and meeting space to complete operational activities.
Given the immense challenges organizations are facing in locating sufficient, co-located space, we suspect that workforces and clients are having trouble finding their way around. Growing organizations often seek to minimize the confusion that comes with changing locations, preferring instead to expand into a vacant adjacent office within the same office complex. It is our experience, through meeting partner organizations at their offices, that these separate office spaces generally lack signage to direct clients to the correct location and that many organizations lack a reception function to meet and direct new clients to the services they need.
In subsequent interviews with our nonprofit partners, we are seeking to confirm whether clients, employees or volunteers are indeed experiencing wayfinding challenges and what the impacts of those challenges are to the operation of their organizations. It is our experience that organizations located in a shared space greatly benefit from having space to grow within the same facility, along with access to shared reception services and coordinated signage. We recommend that nonprofit organizations survey their clients, employees, and volunteers to determine whether their offices are easy to navigate. If appropriate, we would love to discuss with any organization experiencing challenges the potential for shared spaces to enhance organizational operations and client services.
Denver Shared Spaces, Mile High Community Loan Fund and Nonprofit Centers Network. “Reality Check: Snapshot of Nonprofit Real Estate in Metro Denver (2015).” (June 2016) http://denversharedspaces.org/ssrelease/
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF). “Denver 3Q16 Office Market.” (October 2016). http://www.ngkf.com/home/research/us-market-reports.aspx?d=4581