Stock city street

Anyone who’s watched even a minute of HGTV knows the importance of “curb appeal.” While it’s a must for house buyers, real estate professionals say it also translates to commercial real estate.

“If your building doesn’t have good curb appeal, you’ll have trouble getting tenants,” said Lorraine Stelzer, managing director at CBRE in Columbus.

However, building curb appeal is a team effort, said Stelzer, who believes real estate brokers should work closely with property managers to ensure the street-attractiveness factor is there. She said curb appeal is important across all classes of commercial buildings, yet potentially more so in some types of spaces.

“Particularly with a Class A building where a high level of curb appeal is expected,” she said, referring to buildings that tend to be newer properties in desirable areas.

Part of the importance of having good curb appeal is what a tenant feels it represents – quality, said Bob Weiler of The Robert Weiler Company in Columbus.

“To me, the streetscape is really important,” said Weiler, who attends Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany. “The elevations, the materials, landscape and design can be much more important than what’s inside.”

Paul Krimm, managing principal at Cushman & Wakefield in Columbus, also said perception is a key factor for potential tenants.

“From a psychological perspective, cleanliness and proper maintenance definitely impact the perception of the building operation,” he said. “Additionally, a focus upon the professional presentation and upkeep of the path of ingress/egress to a building suite can influence how an individual evaluates their workplace experience.”

Weiler added, “The masonry, brick, stone, marble – it can all give that impression of overall quality.”

Krimm also said the definition of “quality” can be somewhat fluid, dependent upon the property’s age.

“With older buildings it is extremely critical to ensure cleanliness from the parking lot, to the entrance, to the suite,” Krimm said. “As far as curb appeal, in older buildings it is important to highlight building accents and construction features which might differentiate the buildings from newer alternatives ... rough-hewn beams, exposed brick, intricate stonework, imperfect glass, etc.”

Increasing a property’s curb appeal is not always a matter of a developer’s resources or a broker’s input. Location also plays a part. In certain areas of Central Ohio, such as New Albany, conformity is a key building design trait. In Dublin though, the opposite is true, and more of what Weiler calls “individuality” is permitted. Then, there are areas like Columbus’ German Village neighborhood, where the driving factor when working to create curb appeal is maintaining the existing design standards.

Weiler cautions curb appeal should not be seen as a “now” solution alone.

“You need to plan for the future,” he advised. “For example, adding trees and shrubs to the landscape may create a good look now, but when those grow to their full potential, will they obscure entrances and windows, making it hard for people to locate the business?”


Noell Wolfgram Evans writes for the Columbus Jewish News from Columbus.