Page 31 - BusinessWest April 27, 2020
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 market; that’s a clear fear that we have.”
Jack Dill, a principal with Springfield-based Colebrook Realty
Services, which manages a number of properties across the region, agreed, but offered the hope that these ongoing experiments will lead some to conclude, as he has, that having people working in one place promotes collaboration.
“Work is a social enterprise — it’s about relationships, and it’s about trust,” he told BusinessWest. “It’s about the free flow of infor- mation, and that’s a lot harder when people are disbursed.”
Vacancy Signs
As he talked with BusinessWest in mid-April, Vincunas noted that he had recently sent in his application for relief from the SBA- administered Paycheck Protection Program.
The application was made to essentially cover the costs of keep- ing the staff at Development Associates’ small office in Greenfield — located at the Greenfield Corporate Center, which the company manages — on the payroll.
And that’s just one of a long list of COVID-19-related hardships that the company is coping with. Indeed, Vincunas noted that one staff member, concerned about the health risks associated with coming to work, abruptly retired several weeks back, prompt-
ing some shuffling of duties and leaving the company generally short-handed.
“She didn’t want to leave the house,” he noted. “And that really set us back. She retired, and that was that, leaving us to pick up the slack.”
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“Businesses are getting a test run right now with working from home. And if that works for them, there’s a strong possibility they might want to continue that, which would create havoc in the office-leasing market — and the office-
investment market.”
 The story is generally the same with other property managers and brokers, who are, like businesses in virtually every other sector, coping with new realities when it comes to where and how work is being conducted.
As for business itself ... on the brokerage side, things have slowed considerably, as might be expected given the vast amounts of disruption, fear, and general uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
But some deals have been completed. Vincunas said he signed on a new tenant at the beginning of the crisis, and some smaller build-out efforts — being undertaken “slowly and carefully to ensure social distancing” — are in progress.
Dill said the ‘deal flow,’ as he called it, is still moving, and his company closed on a few leases early in April. Properties are still being shown, he went on, albeit carefully, and while observing cer- tain protocols, such as frequent use of hand sanitizer and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces.
But, like others we spoke with, he noted that, as the crisis has continued, the pace of business has slowed, and many who were in the exploratory stages of a potential move have backed off, waiting for the skies to clear.
“We’ve had some say, ‘interesting, attractive property, we’re inter- ested, but things are so unsure, let’s let this settle down and we’ll re- engage at the other end of this.’”
Vincunas agreed. “At the beginning of this, I lost three hot deals that were going ahead, and none of them have come through,” he said, noting that one involved a building in Agawam he was going to buy and lease to an interested tenant. That interest is now gone.
“I had two other tenants who were going to lease space in a building we own already, and both of them said, ‘we have to slow down, things are chang-
ing ... we don’t know,’” he
went on. “Everyone has Continued on page 39
 Real Estate

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