Anyone that has followed along with my photography business knows I have been without a studio for over a year and half. They know too about my search for a new studio, and the less than scrupulous types I have dealt with while almost securing three (or is it four?) properties in that year and a half. Each time I came close to securing space, the developer I was dealing with suddenly became very different, and very demanding, possessing a certain attitude. My best guess is that they have lead you on so long, and they know you NEED the space so they think they have some sort of leverage over you and can make new demands and adjustments to the agreed upon terms. This latest "adventure" though is one of the hardest to accept because he was a friend, and a former client who I was trying to help out.
When he contacted me in mid March, he asked about a space he had obtained from the city, a building at XX S Lasalle St. in Aurora. I knew this building and had been in it before to look at it. It was not what I wanted and it was in need of a fair piece of work to even make it suitable. In my mind, it was about 85% (on a generous scale) of what I was looking for if built out properly. I turned it down. Early April brought another call from my friend and client, this time he asked me what it would be worth to me. I asked him what he needed to get for rent. He's a friend so I wanted to let him down easy but he persisted and I said ok its about 85% there, so 85% of your rent is all I would pay. He needed a tenant lined up to secure other bank loans and the grant I guess. After I told him what it was worth to me I figured our conversation would be over but a few days later he called and accepted. I didn't expect this and was sort of uneasy over it. It was my turn to tell him I'd get back to him. I'm partnering with two other guys and I needed to sit down and go over this with them. They were not enthused. Eventually my developer friend and I hammered out an agreement and my partners were also ok with it. He made it a financial no-brainer for us. Knowing my friend and figuring him a man of his word, I suspended my search for a space in good faith. He assured me he felt he could get me moved in by July 1st. After all, the requirements for a photo studio are about as basic as can be defined for a build out. Plus he knew we all needed a studio. We waited.
Well July came, and went and the date was pushed to August 1. That got pushed to September 1. Today I was told it would be maybe the end of October and if that wasn't agreeable then let him know because he needed to get it on the market as soon as possible to find a tenant. Basically, a take it or leave it.
In between all this we did have regular meetings. In each of those I could sense he wasn't pleased with the terms as he mentioned many times how favorable they were to me. I felt uneasy and asked about getting something together like a lease with the terms outlined, etc. Sure he said but it didn't happen. This felt like the last go-around with a douche developer 3-6 months back since it was playing out identically. Each time we met, I got the same story about what a great deal I was getting. He seemed to forget that HE pushed the deal, that I had to sell my partners on the space and it wasn't the ideal place we wanted. I remained uneasy but he is a friend. A client I had worked with so I waited. I saw zero progress from July 1 to today, August 2. Excuses were offered and then on the phone he tells me that with the place across the street opening (a graphics design business thats about 4 years late in opening up) its going to make his property worth so much more. Is it going to make the other vacant 70% of the properties on the street more valuable too? Given a third of them are in bankruptcy court now? Oh, and the pool hall next door will attract class too. So both of us were getting more and more heated, and then he tried to put the whole thing on me but I had made no demands, other than a move in date so it finally came down to his take or leave it. Why would he do this? Its tough to find good reliable renters in Aurora. He thought he had leverage I guess. He had strung me along for months, knew I was desperate for a studio, And I guess figured his building was now worth more so he thought that if at the last minute, at lease writing time he could ask for more and I refused it would then be a "maybe the end of October" thing. Or never. In hind sight, he would probably market it anyway and if he got a better deal or offer, I was out. Who knows? I don't play games like that.
I left it.
I don't know what the deal is with Aurora and the developers that have bought all the old, vacant run down buildings. EVERY developer I have dealt with and a few I know that my friends have dealt with are as described above. My friend was someone I trusted and felt I could count on but in the end, he turned out to be identical to the others. Losing the space is one thing, but losing a friend or more appropriately finding out his true colors is more disturbing. I was taxed out on studio searches when he called me in the spring. I'm really taxed out now. Unless I buy a building I don't think a studio is in the works for me. I'll keep an open mind but trusting anyone is going to difficult. Maybe if something is move in ready, no build out, no waiting, then maybe there is a chance. We'll see.