Searching for Medical Office Space in NYC.....
New York City is a jungle with many players and dealers. You have to develop a sense for real estate brokers that you can trust, and ones that you cannot. Now given that they're all invested in a commission they're making from the lease or sale, old-school me says take everything they say with a grain of salt. In fact, my experiences thus far have taught me to "trust, but verify" as my father used to say. You're never completely sure who you can trust. Personally, there's only a few people I trust -- my accountant and lawyer are up there, but definitely not my broker, as great as they may be. Such is the name of the game.
So through trial and error you go on the search. Myself, I trust my gut more than anything. If I'm not completely feeling a space, I won't commit. I've been looking for a space to move to for almost 2 years now. Moving a medical practice is a big deal. You have several considerations: 1) Location -- will my patients follow me, 2) Location -- is it convenient to the hospital (hopefully not -- I hate the hospital), 3) Size -- what size space do I need, 4) Size -- will I be alone or sublease to someone else (btw, the smart thing to do, especially for you pcp's and family doc's out there -- face it, we're not making enough money), and 5) Location -- how long will my commute be. These are all very important questions.
Next: 1) Is the space built out as medical? 2) Is the space zoned for medical use? (turns out a very important consideration in a zone-crazy city like Manhattan; if not, rezoning is a nightmare) 2) Is there water in the space? If not, you'll need to find the nearest pipes and figure out if they can be run into the space? 3) Do you need to knock down walls or build walls? 4) Is there a bathroom? Do you honestly want your patients running down the hall with a urine cup in their hand? 5) Does the layout allow you to build the right flow for your practice?
This is when you might hire an architect to take a casual look at the space. I advise against paying at this point. Just get them to give you an idea if the job is doable. Once the lease or sale is closed, you'll need to get a jump on this, as you may have to submit the plans to get a work-permit from the building department. New York City's has a special name -- "the Department of Aggravation." Since plans may take a while to get approved, then you may need to hire an "Expeditor." Sounds "Terminator-like," doesn't it? These people are highly skilled individuals specialized in the art of getting your plans through the building department and approved in a matter of days, instead of weeks. Amazing, huh? Isn't it great what bureaucracy has created?
Once you have a plan, you need a contractor. GOOD LUCK! Hahaha! Yes, this may be quite a difficult task. Remember what I told you in the beginning about trust and honesty. Don't trust these!!! They will promise you the sun and the moon, but in the end may only deliver a raisin. They may quote you 25K now, but by the end it's 50K. Always hidden surprises! Check their references! Then check them again! Ask to see samples of their previous work. The research invested before the job begins, will save you tons of aggravation later. Remember, the day your lease or sale closes is not the day you move in, unless you've have found that once in a blue-moon space that is in move-in condition. Not in NYC where space is scarce, and demand is high. If you live where I live, you'll probably have to do some work to the space. Maybe even a lot of work if the people who left it never made any improvements, unless you like working in a time-capsule.
Aahh, finally....... moving day! Everything is done! Right? Wrong, did you forget to tell each insurance plan you belong to about the impending move? It may take these wonderfully bureaucratic entities a month to enter your new address in the system -- God knows changing a few letters in a computer is a difficult task. Then, it will probably take them another month to start sending your mail there. Did you not tell them to change the mail-to address as well? Those checks are important, so either change to direct deposit before you move, or make sure to give the insurance plans plenty of notice. Tell all of your referring docs as well. Then forward your mail anyway.
And the Best Part! Throw an Opening Reception party! Invite all of your doctors friends and potential sources of referrals to gawk at how great your new space looks. All your hard work has paid off. It's time to celebrate and begin building your future!
Please remember -- don't make it another boring doctor's office. Hang up some artwork for God's sake!