A new building type: 'workshop condos'

January 01, 2006 |

Nicholas Abraham found it peculiar when a growing number of tradesmen seemed to be hanging around his self-storage developments.

It's common for small businesses to rent out storage space, but this was different. "There were an awful lot of tradesmen renting out storage areas to use as workshops as well as for storage," says Abraham, whose eponymous Boston-based real estate company develops and owns apartments, retail centers, office buildings, residential condominiums, and self-storage units in New England.

The problem, Abraham surmised, is that the current economic mini-boom is keeping many contractors, small retailers, distributors, and other small businesses extremely busy. Those who might normally operate out of their homes and garages are suddenly searching for bigger workspace, and a self-storage unit is the only affordable option for businesses operating on a lean budget.

Abraham's solution: Build "mini" workshops complete with a work/storage area, an office, and a restroom. For $150,000-180,000 (plus a $200 monthly assessment), business owners can purchase a 1,200–2,200-sf unit at one of Abraham Properties' new WorkShop Condominiums.

"Using economy of scale, we are able to sell workshops at a fraction of the cost," says Abraham. In fact, the cost per square foot is comparable to that of most self-storage units in the region. "Most tradesmen could not afford to build a building of this scale," he says. "It's a great value."

The company is currently constructing 48 units in three buildings in Northborough, Mass., about 35 miles west of Boston. Another 49 units are set to break ground in Franklin (30 miles southwest of Boston) next spring.

Housed in prefabricated metal buildings, the units feature 20-foot-high ceilings, a 12×14-foot automated garage door, a 10×10-foot office, and two or three parking spaces. The buildings are equipped with heating, ventilation, and electrical systems adequate for a variety businesses and trades, even construction work.

Abraham says feedback so far has been positive. The company has pre-sold 14 of the 20 units in the first building at the Franklin location, and five units at the Northborough site.

Abraham is confident the rest will sell quickly: "There's nothing like this around Boston."

For more, visit: www.workshopcondominiums.com.

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