Trading spaces: Vacant Yuma Buildings Being Repurposed

2013-11-07 22:45:34


The former Target building is now home to Convey Health Solutions Call Center and a store space at the Big Curve Shopping Center now houses the Veterans Clinic while an historic retail building downtown is slated for new offices for Yuma County.

On the flip side, one Department of Economic Security office building is now a school while another was recently purchased by Amberly’s Place to relocate its crisis center to a larger space. The two former office buildings became available after DES consolidated into one 40,000-square-foot building on Redondo Center Drive to gain needed upgrades and greater efficiencies.

All over Yuma, new life is being breathed into larger buildings that in many cases have sat empty for years, observed Tom Pancrazi, broker for A.T. Pancrazi Real Estate.

“They’re creating opportunities for other users,” he said, users that otherwise might not have been able to afford the larger property.

“It provides them an entry into the marketplace.”

Yuma doesn’t have a lot of large office spaces available, Pancrazi said. “So when someone is looking for 10,000 square feet and up, there’s a limited amount of product.”

And what is available may not be in a prime location or with the infrastructure to meet the needs of a company.

Such is the case with Mission Valley Plaza at 24th Street and Avenue C. It has a lot of space available but it’s not finished and it’s a little out of the target area, he said.

“But it creates an opportunity for someone who needs space,” he said. “They’ll be able to get it at a discount.”

Other opportunties open up when an existing occupant moves to a new location, Pancrazi said.

For example, a 15,000-square-foot office building became available on 4th Avenue when YMCA moved to the former NCO call center to share space with the Elks Lodge when that organization moves.

“That creates some retail opportunities and other uses,” Pancrazi said. “It’s visible and it’s in the center of town.”

Musical offices also occurred when his brothers moved A.T. Insurance into the multistory building at 350 W. 16th St. where Pancrazi also has his real estate office. That put the insurance company’s former office building at 333 W. 8th St. on the market.

“There’s some repurposing and some multiple uses,” he said, predicting that the city’s inventory of larger vacant buildings suitable for offices will be absorbed in the next 12 months.

“Vacancies increased in the last five years,” he said. “Now they’re slowly being absorbed. Someone is finding new uses for them. There are holes out there, but not a lot of them. The question is how fast demand will come back and will they be a right fit.”

If not, the user will be forced to build.

That can be especially true for medical offices, Pancrazi said. They need a higher parking count, require more infrastructure than most other offices and they usually prefer to be near Yuma Regional Medical Center. Oh, yes, and typically they’re more expensive.

That’s been the attraction of Tuscany Professional Plaza at Avenue B and 28th Street where over the last few years a number of medical offices have been built and more are on the way. Construction is expected to start soon on a new building there for Del Sol Therapy.

Pancrazi sees three distinct office districts in the city.

The downtown area has become the government district with Yuma City Hall, the newly completed John M. Roll U.S. Courthouse and a cluster of Yuma County offices that includes the administration building, Justice Center and the Adult Probation Office that currently also houses the offices of the assessor, recorder and treasurer.

The county’s purchase of the vacant building across the street from the administrative building for badly needed additional office space will keep those government offices in the downtown core, Pancrazi said.

The area of 4th Avenue and 16th Street is the city’s financial district, Pancrazi said, with banks, title companies, mortgage companies, insurance companies and real estate located there. He expects that to further develop with the city’s efforts to stimulate private revitalization of the area.

He sees the area around YRMC as the city’s medical district with the hospital campus and medical offices located nearby. That’s driving such developments as ProMed, Tuscany Plaza and the planned medical complex on 8th Avenue off 24th Street.

Outside of those areas, he sees a new office district forming in the Rio Vista Commerce Center off Castle where Allstate now has a call center.

There also a number of small medical, attorney, accountant, real estate and insurance offices sprinkled around the community in multitenant buildings, sharing space with banks or in free standing offices.

He’s seeing a lot of demand for 300-square-foot offices with room for a desk, file cabinet and couple of chairs.

He also believes there will be some need for executive suites where someone needs to set up shop temporarily with access to the Internet. His own conference room sometimes serves that purpose for out-of-town brokers, he added.

One trend he’s seeing, he said, is a diminishing need for small office spaces because of the advances of technology that allow someone to set up an office in their home or car with a laptop or iPad.

For example, he said, Progressive Insurance previously needed space for two claims officers with their files and records. “Now they do everything off a laptop or tablet.”