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Venue Tower at the BOB - 20 Monroe Live - House of Blues/Live Nation Venue

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Sorry to disagree, GRDAD. It's a bad system. When you get ready for a happy meal you don't eat a hamburger at Wendy's, McDonalds and Rally's and then just pay for the one that tasted the best. There are real costs involved for each firm to develop their concepts on your behalf...which charrette's ignore or disregard.

IMO, it's a disrespectful approach to design talent...I get approached all the time this way for photography...and I run for the hills. Because typically you can never make money on these "spec" clients. They tend to try to undercut your fees all the way down the line because they never put any value on your talent and time in the first place.

That being said, I've personally always had a good experience with Mr. Gilmore and he's been very fair with me.

I agree it sucks to put forth concepts and then not be chosen, as you are out the time and money. But how else would a developer choose a local firm on a project like this? Especially since there aren't a lot of local firms who specialize in this type of project?

All I'm saying is that he could have easily chosen from a huge selection of Chicago architects to do a project like this. It's great that he didn't (hasn't).

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I don't think that it is disrespectful at all. my wife particiapted in a charette when she was in grad school and she didn't find it that way at all. She also informed me that it can mean different things. like a group getting together comprised of different disciplines to see what each could bring to the table. It would be dumb not to hold one in my opinion. an analogy would be going to buy a car. you don't go to ford, tell them what you want and then let them pick the car that you think would be the best for you. you go to each dealer and see what they can offer you, picking the one that best fits your needs. it doesn't mean that you pay bottom dollar, but that you get the best design possible. These projects, while taking a bit of effort are not the same as doing a complete design for a building since they are typically completed in several days. you may be bitter if you don't win the charette but worst case scenario you have something additional to put in your portfolio. if is so disrespectful, design firms always have the option not to participate as well.

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I agree it sucks to put forth concepts and then not be chosen, as you are out the time and money. But how else would a developer choose a local firm on a project like this? Especially since there aren't a lot of local firms who specialize in this type of project?

All I'm saying is that he could have easily chosen from a huge selection of Chicago architects to do a project like this. It's great that he didn't (hasn't).

Yep that is just the nature of the business. The RFP goes out or in some cases is sent to a select few businesses and the results come in. Working on proposals can be costly in time and money and they don't always pay off but in order to keep competitive and expand your business it is just the game you have to play.

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Yep that is just the nature of the business. The RFP goes out or in some cases is sent to a select few businesses and the results come in. Working on proposals can be costly in time and money and they don't always pay off but in order to keep competitive and expand your business it is just the game you have to play.

Yeah, many AE firms have marketing staff devoted to putting together proposals for projects, many of which they are never awarded. Some proposals are more intense than others. Some result in interviews which can involve a lot of the top dogs in the AE firm, using many many billable hours that may never be repayed. Many require traveling to the development site, which is costly if it is out of the area. And there are no guarantees the work will come.

I don't mean to dwell on this too much.

One thing to consider is that Gilmore has to close on the property by the end of the year, and/or the price goes up $200,000. "End of the year" is only 4 months away. He probably at least wants to have the designs finalized by then.

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an analogy would be going to buy a car. you don't go to ford, tell them what you want and then let them pick the car that you think would be the best for you. you go to each dealer and see what they can offer you, picking the one that best fits your needs. it doesn't mean that you pay bottom dollar, but that you get the best design possible.

I don't know about anyone else - but when I go shopping for a car I go for the cheapest price possible :lol:

Edited by blueradon

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Yeah, many AE firms have marketing staff devoted to putting together proposals for projects, many of which they are never awarded. Some proposals are more intense than others. Some result in interviews which can involve a lot of the top dogs in the AE firm, using many many billable hours that may never be repayed. Many require traveling to the development site, which is costly if it is out of the area. And there are no guarantees the work will come.

I don't mean to dwell on this too much.

One thing to consider is that Gilmore has to close on the property by the end of the year, and/or the price goes up $200,000. "End of the year" is only 4 months away. He probably at least wants to have the designs finalized by then.

Daddy- You're all over the place on this one. And awfully glib about AE firms do to get work. What you started with was comp designs from firms - which in my book is very different from an RFP. RFP's typically don't require design solutions - some do, but it's very rare. Marketing staffs putting together proposals is quite different from a design charrette.

Now, you're correct this happens all the time - developers wanting comp work. But that doesn't make it right. Every time a firm - my firm or any other firm - gives out free designs it makes it that much tougher for my firm or any other firm to get somebody or anybody to pay for the work. If Gilmore can get it for free here why should he ever pay for it? And, if Gilmore can get it for free: why should developer X, Y, or Z pay for it? It's a zero sum game and very short sighted when architects agree to give their intellectual property away for free - it's bad business.

This is different from the local or not discussion. All things being equal, I agree with you - I'd prefer to have a local architect working on this project...if it happens and if he pays. But, local or not, if he's going to be stringing along multiple firms on a complimentary design goose chase - I'd prefer him to find his sucker someplace else.

Now, we've comped design to people in the past and most likely we'll grind our teeth and do it again at some point in the - but the longer we've been in business it seems like we're asked to do free work less and less. Ultimately, we find more and more that the serious people that come to us for architecture understand that we're in business too and that our time and intellectual property has value that deserves payment.

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Daddy- You're all over the place on this one. And awfully glib about AE firms do to get work. What you started with was comp designs from firms - which in my book is very different from an RFP. RFP's typically don't require design solutions - some do, but it's very rare. Marketing staffs putting together proposals is quite different from a design charrette.

Now, you're correct this happens all the time - developers wanting comp work. But that doesn't make it right. Every time a firm - my firm or any other firm - gives out free designs it makes it that much tougher for my firm or any other firm to get somebody or anybody to pay for the work. If Gilmore can get it for free here why should he ever pay for it? And, if Gilmore can get it for free: why should developer X, Y, or Z pay for it? It's a zero sum game and very short sighted when architects agree to give their intellectual property away for free - it's bad business.

This is different from the local or not discussion. All things being equal, I agree with you - I'd prefer to have a local architect working on this project...if it happens and if he pays. But, local or not, if he's going to be stringing along multiple firms on a complimentary design goose chase - I'd prefer him to find his sucker someplace else.

Now, we've comped design to people in the past and most likely we'll grind our teeth and do it again at some point in the - but the longer we've been in business it seems like we're asked to do free work less and less. Ultimately, we find more and more that the serious people that come to us for architecture understand that we're in business too and that our time and intellectual property has value that deserves payment.

I think you're totally misunderstanding me, and maybe I don't understand what Gilmore is asking for (since I wasn't there). But isn't he just looking for "concepts", not ACTUAL plans that can be built off of?

And even though proposals don't usually require the work of an architect, they do cost money and they do require creative talent (usually). Do companies expect to be compensated for proposals? Of course not. That was my point.

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I think you're totally misunderstanding me, and maybe I don't understand what Gilmore is asking for (since I wasn't there). But isn't he just looking for "concepts", not ACTUAL plans that can be built off of?

That's what I thought as well.

I saw a glimpse of one AE firm's brainstorming session results and what I saw look mostly conceptual.

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That's what I thought as well.

I saw a glimpse of one AE firm's brainstorming session results and what I saw look mostly conceptual.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Something like this Detroit project rendering:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2385/217357...208f85e3c_o.jpg

You certainly couldn't go out and get construction bids on it, but it gives people something to get excited about and use for marketing to potential tenants/investors/residents.

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my uncle is an architect. I was talking a little bit about fees and costs with him. I believe he said something like 90% of the fee the architect recieves is just the Construction Documents ( CDs ) The other parts are like models and color drawings of the building. So if you are trying to get a contract to do those CDs you have to put forth a little expense to get the job. You also have to consider that Gilmore is wanting to get an idea what could be built there. It would be a huge expense for him to go and purchase property and find out oh I can't build what I want. By having these conceptal drawings done it would allow him a general idea for what could be built.

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Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Something like this Detroit project rendering:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2385/217357...208f85e3c_o.jpg

You certainly couldn't go out and get construction bids on it, but it gives people something to get excited about and use for marketing to potential tenants/investors/residents.

Dad I can't explain to you the number of man hours it would take to design a project to the level of that Detroit project and then create the renderings.. Each one of those still shots could be in the neighborhood of $10,000 each! Having been in the industry for a few years, I'm with Ted on this one. Unless you are going after Starchitecture talent, design charettes are not in the best interest of the Architecture or Designer in the least bit and completely in the best interest of the Owner or Client. We recently spent something like $90,000 on a concept for a project close to the same scale as this one. The client was completely blown away, but we were able to do this because we already knew we had the project. Firms in West Michigan are not large enough or profitable enough to be able to throw their top designers around at charettes and rack up unbillable hours.

Edited by jbr12

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Put me in Ted's camp. I'm not an architect, I'm a web developer, but the same sort of stuff happens in this business. If a client is "shopping around" we don't want to waste time creating comps that may not get used. Or worse, taken to our competitor to duplicate. Clients come to us because we provide value. We know the web, they don't. About the only thing we'll do for free is initial requirements gathering and ballpark estimating.

It usually becomes obvious which clients value our time and expertise, and which ones just want to keep things cheap. We usually end up constantly putting out fires for the cheap clients because they won't step back and talk to us about strategy, even though it would probably save money in the long run.

Unless a firm is desperate for work, I'd bet most would choose not to participate in design competitions unless the payoff is really big. What you have left, then, are the second-tier firms.

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I think you're totally misunderstanding me, and maybe I don't understand what Gilmore is asking for (since I wasn't there). But isn't he just looking for "concepts", not ACTUAL plans that can be built off of?

And even though proposals don't usually require the work of an architect, they do cost money and they do require creative talent (usually). Do companies expect to be compensated for proposals? Of course not. That was my point.

If an architect or any other creative consultant provides intellectual property (concepts, sketches, ideas, whatever) they should be paid. If I'm being asked to tell someone what my fees will be or how long it will take to do the work or to share with them my experience or portfolio - that's on me.

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I guess that begs the question then: if I'm a client like Gilmore and need a high-rise mixed-use development in Grand Rapids, where do I go to have it designed?

a) I've never done a project like this before

b) The architects I've used in the past have all done either small buildings (Blue Water Grill), or additions/build-outs

c) There aren't a lot of architects in town who do projects like this

Personally, I don't think I would necessarily go with a firm that I had a working relationship with, just because I had a good relationship with them. The firm's owner and I might have done a lot of projects together, we might be old friends, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get the best looking design that fits my vision. Good relationship does not equal good design.

I'm not advocating that creative professionals give away their work all the time. But, in circumstances like this, it might be warranted. The J.W. Marriott, Van Andel Institute, GRAM, Gallery on Fulton, and the Children's Hospital all had multiple concepts from multiple firms submitted.

If you don't like charrettes, don't participate in them. Especially smaller firms where there is little room for speculative concepts. But I don't think charrettes are "dragging the entire industry" down.

edit: Ted, It's what is done in the industry, especially on larger projects with larger firms involved. I have a relative who is an architect for one of the largest AE firms in the country, and design competitions to get work, especially on high-profile projects, is the norm.

So maybe we'll just have to see if Gilmore pays anyone or not. Considering his long-standing reputation in the area, I would say he's good for it.

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I guess that begs the question then: if I'm a client like Gilmore and need a high-rise mixed-use development in Grand Rapids, where do I go to have it designed?

a) I've never done a project like this before

b) The architects I've used in the past have all done either small buildings (Blue Water Grill), or additions/build-outs

c) There aren't a lot of architects in town who do projects like this

Personally, I don't think I would necessarily go with a firm that I had a working relationship with, just because I had a good relationship with them. The firm's owner and I might have done a lot of projects together, we might be old friends, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get the best looking design that fits my vision. Good relationship does not equal good design.

I'm not advocating that creative professionals give away their work all the time. But, in circumstances like this, it might be warranted. The J.W. Marriott, Van Andel Institute, GRAM, Gallery on Fulton, and the Children's Hospital all had multiple concepts from multiple firms submitted.

If you don't like charrettes, don't participate in them. Especially smaller firms where there is little room for speculative concepts. But I don't think charrettes are "dragging the entire industry" down.

edit: Ted, It's what is done in the industry, especially on larger projects with larger firms involved. I have a relative who is an architect for one of the largest AE firms in the country, and design competitions to get work, especially on high-profile projects, is the norm.

So maybe we'll just have to see if Gilmore pays anyone or not. Considering his long-standing reputation in the area, I would say he's good for it.

Uh, this is silly. We're only talking about the frickin' DESIGN of the entire building and how it integrates visually and aesthetically into a community.

Additionally, much of the success of these type of boutique hotel/retail/living concepts is based on the success of the DESIGN. If you're investing millions and millions of dollars into a location with the hope of long term profitability and also hope to make a statement architecturally, wouldn't it make sense to set aside even $10,000-50,000 is the first phase of the project to insure you have a 1st tier architect working on it with you???

Do you want to shave a few dollars off of DESIGN to save a few bucks? That's a small percentage of the overall project cost. The asphalt being poured around the building will cost a lot more than that and no one would argue that it should be poured for free.

It's upside down. You're cultured to ask for this stuff for free...but that doesn't make it right or the best approach to developing a site that happens to have so much at stake in the DESIGN.

Edited by PR-15

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edit: Ted, It's what is done in the industry, especially on larger projects with larger firms involved. I have a relative who is an architect for one of the largest AE firms in the country, and design competitions to get work, especially on high-profile projects, is the norm.

Do you work for free Jeff? Gotta side with Ted on this one. Gilmore is a lot more shrewd then you give him credit for. He's done enough projects of all different scales in this town to know what he's looking for.

Just becuase it happens in the industry, doesn't make it right. There are too many whore firms out there that will undercut on fee just to get a job whether they are qualified or not. I've seen designs outright stolen from architects by developers and given to cut rate architects. Not that I'm insinuating that something like that would happen here, but it has happened in the past. Someone else further up the thread remarked that when they shop for a car they shop for the lowest price, well, there's what you get.

An architect has nothing to sell but their intellectual property. If you want it, you should be willing to pay for it. More architects need to make a stand on this. I have, no free work goes out of this office for any reason. I've lost jobs in the past because of it, but frankly they are jobs I really didn't want anyway.

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Uh, this is silly. We're only talking about the frickin' DESIGN of the entire building and how it integrates visually and aesthetically into a community.

Additionally, much of the success of these type of boutique hotel/retail/living concepts is based on the success of the DESIGN. If you're investing millions and millions of dollars into a location with the hope of long term profitability and also hope to make a statement architecturally, wouldn't it make sense to set aside even $10,000-50,000 is the first phase of the project to insure you have a 1st tier architect working on it with you???

Do you want to shave a few dollars off of DESIGN to save a few bucks? That's a small percentage of the overall project cost. The asphalt being poured around the building will cost a lot more than that and no one would argue that it should be poured for free.

It's upside down. You're cultured to ask for this stuff for free...but that doesn't make it right or the best approach to developing a site that happens to have so much at stake in the DESIGN.

But again, how do you know you're going to get the best design until the architects you're thinking of give you a taste of what they can do? I'm not going to pay $50,000 out of pocket to a firm that certainly knows how to design a good elementary school or an office building, but has very little high-rise experience, to draw up a "concept" for me.

I just don't get what the alternative scenario would be. Maybe someone can help me out. :)

And Nitro, yes I do work for free. :P Or at least 90% of it, I never see a dime. You make up for it and then some on the 10%. But I think it comes down to level of risk. Some firms are willing to bet big in order to win big.

edit: never mind, we're all going to have to agree to disagree. Everyone has differing levels of "risk" they are willing to take.

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Put me in Ted's camp. I'm not an architect, I'm a web developer, but the same sort of stuff happens in this business. If a client is "shopping around" we don't want to waste time creating comps that may not get used. Or worse, taken to our competitor to duplicate. Clients come to us because we provide value. We know the web, they don't. About the only thing we'll do for free is initial requirements gathering and ballpark estimating.

It usually becomes obvious which clients value our time and expertise, and which ones just want to keep things cheap. We usually end up constantly putting out fires for the cheap clients because they won't step back and talk to us about strategy, even though it would probably save money in the long run.

Unless a firm is desperate for work, I'd bet most would choose not to participate in design competitions unless the payoff is really big. What you have left, then, are the second-tier firms.

I'll saddle up with you on this one.

I work with a network of web-developers (freelancers primarily).

The designers don't work for free, not even concepts.

The developers will do some conceptual discussion without billing by the hour, but for the most part even flow-documents and architectural layouts of web-sites cost money.

We mostly sell based on the quality of our previous work.

That said, if you're trying to enter a new vertical market, you sometimes have to give away some eggs in order to sell the chicken (so to speak).

If there are no GR firms specializing in this type of architectural work, it might not be possible to win the job based on the quality of previous work... then you're stuck giving away some concepts.

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Just for clarification that sample rendering GRDad posted is a lot more detailed than the sketches I saw for this project. I highly doubt $10,000 was spent on it. I'm sure the firm paid their designers for the time it took to come up with the renderings.

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Firms in West Michigan are not large enough or profitable enough to be able to throw their top designers around at charettes and rack up unbillable hours.

jbr-

That's the trap. No architecture firm is profitable enough to be able to rack up large amounts of unbillable hours.

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I would like to see a design for the building before I agree that it is what I want to build. I would like to see a couple of different ideas from a couple of different people. Would I be willing to pay something for it, yes. Would I pay a lot for what I won't use, no. If your design is good you get the project, which is what 10% or more of the total project? To the victor go the spoils.

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But again, how do you know you're going to get the best design until the architects you're thinking of give you a taste of what they can do? I'm not going to pay $50,000 out of pocket to a firm that certainly knows how to design a good elementary school or an office building, but has very little high-rise experience, to draw up a "concept" for me.

I just don't get what the alternative scenario would be. Maybe someone can help me out. :)

And Nitro, yes I do work for free. :P Or at least 90% of it, I never see a dime. You make up for it and then some on the 10%. But I think it comes down to level of risk. Some firms are willing to bet big in order to win big.

edit: never mind, we're all going to have to agree to disagree. Everyone has differing levels of "risk" they are willing to take.

So why would you ask the same firm with little experience to design the project for free? Why are you going to get a better design out of the firm without experience if you don't pay for it?

There's the rub Daddy: It's not about the best design here for this project, it's about free.

Uh, this is silly. We're only talking about the frickin' DESIGN of the entire building and how it integrates visually and aesthetically into a community.

Additionally, much of the success of these type of boutique hotel/retail/living concepts is based on the success of the DESIGN. If you're investing millions and millions of dollars into a location with the hope of long term profitability and also hope to make a statement architecturally, wouldn't it make sense to set aside even $10,000-50,000 is the first phase of the project to insure you have a 1st tier architect working on it with you???

Do you want to shave a few dollars off of DESIGN to save a few bucks? That's a small percentage of the overall project cost. The asphalt being poured around the building will cost a lot more than that and no one would argue that it should be poured for free.

It's upside down. You're cultured to ask for this stuff for free...but that doesn't make it right or the best approach to developing a site that happens to have so much at stake in the DESIGN.

word.

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So why would you ask the same firm with little experience to design the project for free? Why are you going to get a better design out of the firm without experience if you don't pay for it?

There's the rub Daddy: It's not about the best design here for this project, it's about free.

word.

Why pay the firm with little experience to give me a "napkin sketch" for free? Because many of the larger local firms have a lot of brilliant talent that might come out in a "design competition". Some firms have architects on their staff who have come from other larger firms and might have worked on a similar project in another market. Whoever does the best gets the work and then gets paid to do the design work. I might not know that if I picked a firm and paid them $10,000 or $50,000 to draw up some concepts, and then realized the talent at that firm was pretty shallow in that area. Now I'm out $50,000 and need to go find a new firm.

And as far as I know, he's not going to get the building completely designed for free. He's just getting a concept. A sketch. Of course no one in their right mind would create a complete set of build-able plans for free. I agree that it would be completely insane.

But I'm still waiting to hear what the alternatives would be in this situation.

Frankly, I'd like to see more of these design competitions locally. Then they can all be submitted to UP and we'll pick the best design. :shades:

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I guess that begs the question then: if I'm a client like Gilmore and need a high-rise mixed-use development in Grand Rapids, where do I go to have it designed?

a) I've never done a project like this before

b) The architects I've used in the past have all done either small buildings (Blue Water Grill), or additions/build-outs

c) There aren't a lot of architects in town who do projects like this

Personally, I don't think I would necessarily go with a firm that I had a working relationship with, just because I had a good relationship with them. The firm's owner and I might have done a lot of projects together, we might be old friends, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get the best looking design that fits my vision. Good relationship does not equal good design.

I'm not advocating that creative professionals give away their work all the time. But, in circumstances like this, it might be warranted. The J.W. Marriott, Van Andel Institute, GRAM, Gallery on Fulton, and the Children's Hospital all had multiple concepts from multiple firms submitted.

If you don't like charrettes, don't participate in them. Especially smaller firms where there is little room for speculative concepts. But I don't think charrettes are "dragging the entire industry" down.

edit: Ted, It's what is done in the industry, especially on larger projects with larger firms involved. I have a relative who is an architect for one of the largest AE firms in the country, and design competitions to get work, especially on high-profile projects, is the norm.

So maybe we'll just have to see if Gilmore pays anyone or not. Considering his long-standing reputation in the area, I would say he's good for it.

There are lots of potential solutions:

1) He could ask one of the architects he has a relationship to put together a short list of architects with appropriate experience for the client and the architect to interview as potential joint venture design partners in the deal. Then he could have the best of both worlds: a local presence and experience.

2) He could tell a number of potential local architects that he would like to hire them but they must address the experience issue in an RFP - which would probably have the locals teaming up on their own with an architect having more specific experience. And, make a selection based on that.

3) Or, and this comes from a good friend of mine on the other side of this issue who posts on here from time to time, it's a lot like elective plastic surgery (it's not a matter of life or death if this project gets built or not - he's doing it for pleasure and profit): you go and sit down with the guy and talk with him about your nose and what you want it to look like, about his work and how he does it, maybe look at some before and after pictures...maybe you talk with three or four before you realize that none of them can or will guarantee an outcome. So how do you pick one? I know what I would do, but ultimately you roll your dice and you take your chances. Local or not. Experience or not.

The other subtext here is that somehow this could be magically picked off the shelf or properly generated in a week of hurried design. It's not the case. Whatever alternative is selected in the short term will not be what the building looks like - the Fulton and Division project for example - for any number of reasons...cost, market, zoning, etc.

Come on Daddy, you know that I know what business practices are in my industry perfectly well. And, while comp design happens, it's not the norm and it shouldn't be the norm.

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