The Need

In 2015, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) was approaching its 20th anniversary. The organization was looking to bring more awareness to its cause and decided that its national headquarters in Austin, Texas would be an important part of its awareness campaign.   

The NDVH headquarters was out of date, inefficient, and no longer met the needs of the organization. It had occupied the same +/- 20,000-square-foot space in the Westlake neighborhood of Austin, Texas for over 15 years. The office included both traditional Class C space and an adjacent portable building.

To help assess its headquarters and real estate needs, the NDVH hired AQUILA.

The Solution

Sublease Unused Space Immediately

After analyzing the organization’s use of its current office space, NDVH determined that the portable building was no longer needed.

AQUILA took the portable space to market for sublease and successfully secured a short-term tenant to take the space through the expiration of the existing lease.

Start the Search for a New Headquarters

At the same time, AQUILA helped NDVH engage an architect to evaluate its space needs.

Based on the architect’s square footage recommendation, AQUILA began the search for a new 25,000-to-30,000-square-foot office space, including both purchase and lease options.

The new office needed to meet the organization’s specific requirements, including:

  • Cost-Sensitive: As a nonprofit organization, the cost was the most important concern when identifying potential sites for the NDVH.
  • Low Profile Location: Because of the organization’s mission and clientele, it was important for the organization to remain under the radar
  • Proximity to Employees: It was important to find a new office that was in a similar area as the existing space, as most of the employees were long-tenured.

After a comprehensive market survey and tour, NDVH selected a 26,000-square-foot building within a new development in south Austin as the best option.

Craft a Creative Solution

However, during early discussions with the landlord, we were informed the landlord had leased out a portion of the desired building to another tenant, meaning there was no longer enough space within the building to accommodate NDVH.

This is when AQUILA had to get creative. There were two other 15,000-sf buildings planned for the development. Each was too small for NDVH on its own, and the organization preferred not to be divided between two buildings.

By leveraging NDVH’s sizable square foot and term requirement, AQUILA was able to work with the developer to revise the plan for these buildings. Instead of two smaller buildings, the plan was changed, and one larger, 26,000-square-foot building would be developed.

Because this building was one of the last to be built on the site, it had less visibility than the typical office tenant would want. But, because of the NDVH’s low-profile requirement, it was actually an ideal location.

The Results

Securing Favorable Terms for NDVH

With this new option available, AQUILA was able to negotiate a highly favorable, long-term lease for the new NDVH headquarters. These results included:

  • A first-year rental rate close to what they were currently paying, allowing for a “ramp-up period” in order to help offset moving costs; rental rates came up to market after year one
  • A tenant improvement allowance 67% higher than the landlord’s original offer, which was particularly important because it minimized any out-of-pocket costs
  • An operating expense cap that included property tax, a very rare but particularly important concession, as property tax (and as a result operating expenses) increases can far exceed rental rate increases in the current market
  • Purchase options in years two and three; by signing a lease now with the option to purchase, NDVH saved cash-on-hand upfront, but still had the option to own its building, which is typically favorable for nonprofit organizations
  • Negotiated fixed rate purchase price, should the purchase options be acted on

And, because the NDVH was brought in before construction on the building began, its team was able to be involved in the finish-out decisions for the building.

More Than Just a Broker

AQUILA continued our relationship with the NDVH far beyond the transaction.

The AQUILA Project Management team was brought in during lease negotiations to help estimate build-out budgets and coordinate test fits. Once the lease was signed, they were retained to lead the build-out of the headquarters.

The project was delivered on time and on budget, thanks to creative money-saving ideas provided by the project management team.

Additionally, in an effort to help further the valuable mission of the NDVH, two AQUILA brokers chaired the organization’s annual fundraising gala in 2017 and 2018 respectively.



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