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June 27, 2012

Have a vacant office? Convert it to a gym, expert says

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Office Space @ 6:00 am

If you’ve got commercial office space that’s sitting vacant and not earning you any money due to the poor economic conditions in the commercial premises market, one expert says you should consider converting the space into a gym instead.

Iain Mercer, office development tycoon and son of the late Wallace Mercer, chairman of the Hearts football club, says that unused office space in three of his Lothian-based office blocks have been converted into fitness centres. In fact, Mr Mercer has successfully transformed his office block in Dalkeith back to fully let after Pulse Pilates & Fitness Studio has replaced Welcome Finance, a former tenant that recently relocated, and two other lettings preceded this one, with the contracts seeing Mr Mercer’s Musselburgh-based Harbour Point offices and his Edinburgh-based WH1 development welcoming ‘mini-gyms’ operated by Curves.

The entrepreneur was cleared to bring in Pulse after applying for a change of use from Midlothian Council for the Soutra Point development, an approval granted to him partly because the fitness studio is the first of its kind within in the area. Mr Mercer said he would much rather see the space producing income and occupied than seeing it simply lie vacant and contributing nothing to his portfolio; he additionally said that the situation also benefits the council, as Pulse will be paying business rates to the local authority.

When asked about whether it was a desperate measure to allow fitness operators take up vacant office space, the young entrepreneur said that the economic situation in the UK is such that landlords need to read the writing on the wall. However, the lease agreement between Pulse and the office block is quite acceptable, Mr Mercer insisted.

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