Tips For Finding An Office In NYC

by | Last updated Jun 4, 2020 | Commercial, New York City

Finding an office space in NYC can be a difficult and stressful process. This is a major investment and essential to your business identity and success.


Finding An Office Space

  • Take Your Time and Plan Ahead
  • Understand Commercial Building Classifications
  • Rentable Square Footage Vs Usable Square Footage
  • Broker or DIY


Take Your Time In Finding An Office Space

Finding an office space in NYC is not easy. I know, we have a small architecture office in NYC located in Chelsea. We spent months looking at offices before we finally chose one. I advise you start looking at least 3 months in advance. If you plan to do a major renovation or are looking for a large office space you should start at least 6 months in advance. You may not always have the luxury of a great deal of time to do research and see spaces, but start as early as possible.


Commercial Building Classifications

There are some informal commercial building classifications you may want to understand.

  • Trophy Buildings (I call them Premiere Buildings) – These are the top of the line most expensive.
  • Class A Buildings – These are the expensive good quality buildings.
  • Class B Buildings – These are the average price and quality buildings.
  • Class C Buildings- These are the lowest priced buildings and below average quality.


Rentable Square Feet Vs Your Office Square Footage

This is one item I will never understand. Building owners have a term “rentable square footage.” This does not mean the square footage of your actual office space. This is an inflated number they use. In theory they are including the common areas of the office like hallways, shared bathrooms, the lobby, stairs, elevators and wall thicknesses. In my opinion they don’t even calculate these accurately. I think many building managers just inflate the numbers to make the office sound bigger. Our experience is that sometimes the rentable square footage can be as much as twice the actual office space. I have encountered some people who list office spaces with the actual usable square footage of the space.

when finding an office you may want to measure the office space yourself. I measured all the offices we look at myself and do a calculation of cost per square foot of actual usable square feet.


Broker Vs Direct

You do not need to work with a broker but in most cases you probably should. I am an architect and I may be a little more experienced in real estate so I never used a broker to find an office. I contacted management companies directly in the area I was looking for. This is more work but can save you some money. Also I had an intern running around all over Chelsea measuring spaces and taking photos to help narrow down the search. If you are willing to put in the time you may not need a broker, but you should definitely consider getting a broker.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Finding an Office Space.

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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.