It matters what you do in public – maintaining public spaces

by FM Media
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Maintaining public spaces is integral to ensuring visitors have a positive reaction to a building.

A building’s public space can represent a development in its entirety, cultivating a positive entry experience for tenants, residents and visitors alike. But if those public spaces are poorly maintained, it can generate a negative association with the building, writes DYAN SISOUW.

More than ever, developers are placing an emphasis on offering high-end public spaces across both residential and commercial projects, often sourcing inspiration from luxury hotels, which are renowned for creating a positive entry experience for visitors, while ensuring these spaces are maintained throughout their lifespan.

This commitment to maintenance is reflected across the industry, with IBIS reporting the facilities management services industry revenue is expected to climb at an annualised rate of 0.9 percent over the next five years, reaching $10.3 billion by 2024. This year alone the industry revenue is forecast to increase 3.3 percent.

It is what’s on the inside the counts

Creating a positive entry experience for residents and visitors is becoming increasingly important for both residential and commercial buildings. In particular, residential buildings are expected to offer high-end, hotel-style facilities, while common areas within commercial buildings have a level of sophistication in which business owners feel comfortable meeting clients or working.

Effective maintenance of these areas not only results in higher tenant retention and better business attraction, but it may also warrant the rental price point to be charged at a premium.

Poorly maintained spaces may create the perception that your asset is of a lower grade than it actually is and, ultimately, if a tenant forms a negative opinion about the state of their office or living quarters, they may leave the building for something better. In the case of commercial developments, employees may feel embarrassed to invite clients to their office if the building maintenance does not effectively represent their business.

The public spaces in a residential or commercial building have a typical life cycle of five to seven years and there are key indicators that imply the space is dated. Look out for general wear and tear and, more importantly, a reduction of foot traffic or fewer people using the space.

More than just a facelift

There are a number of common mistakes building owners make when it comes to maintaining the condition of both residential and business buildings. When done well, intentional dark accents are a stylistic choice; however, it’s best to avoid unnecessarily selecting darker finishes.

Also be mindful of trying to negate costs by using cheaper or incorrect products, as it will almost always end up being more costly in the long term. It isn’t always realistic for building owners and businesses to engage in a huge overhaul; however, with a few refurbishments, it is possible to refresh public spaces relatively easily. There are more simplistic approaches to apply throughout the space; for example, splashing a fresh coat of paint, reviewing the lighting, replacing outdated furniture and ensuring that all areas are visually clean.

Review the applied finishes like the ceiling finish, lift doors and car fitouts and, for older anodised aluminium, you may choose to apply an electrostatic finish to make the space feel new and on trend.

If you aren’t sure where to start, there are great services to guide and inspire you on ways to update your space.

There are always new products coming onto the market so do some research or push your designer to specify the newest products available. Most importantly, don’t be scared to reuse the built form – you don’t always need to start from scratch.

A great example is Crown Melbourne, which is home to accommodation, dining, gaming, conferencing, shopping and entertainment facilities, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Crown has been operating since 1997, but it regularly undergoes refurbishment to ensure it remains a destination visitors keep coming back to, year and year again.

Rather than replacing worn or outdated fittings, Crown restores, repairs and refreshes its spaces, all while ensuring little disruption is experienced to its 10,000-strong staff and the 19 million visitors it experiences annually.

So, next time you review your asset, ask yourself if you would want to bring visitors to the space, or if it can be more akin to a hotel lobby as opposed to a residential or commercial building. Great building upkeep can determine image, likability and presence, while excellent quality services can help you reap the benefits of better tenant retention and better business attraction. This in turn can allow you to increase rents.

Dyan Sisouw is the director of EnviroScope Maintenance delivering commercial maintenance solutions. EnviroScope works with a variety of clients such as Crown Casino, Jones Lang La Salle, Australia Post, KnightFM and Melbourne Sports Trust.

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