CREA United Members Collaborate for the Greater Good: A Case Study on Opening an Established Cardiology Practice in a New Building


CREA United has enabled members to work collaboratively with clients toward an end goal for over 11 years. Commercial businesses come together to offer products and services to those in the market for commercial real estate.


Collaboration Benefits Everyone

A recent project that involved a construction build-out for a new cardiology office united nine CREA United members, all working together to ensure that the clients received exactly what they needed.


Dr. Marcus Williams and Mrs. Sonia Williams wanted to purchase a building for their cardiology practice. The Williamses connected with Associate Vice Presidents Darren Lizzack and Randy Horning (Team Lizzack/Horning) to identify and secure the building. After a yearlong search, they identified the perfect place for their needs. Before the building went under contract, Team Lizzack/Horning engaged an architect to conduct a “test-fit” study that verified whether the building could accommodate the office and a contractor, who provided an estimate for the scope of work required.


After Team Lizzack/Horning helped to negotiate in good faith between the building seller and doctor, they brought in CREA member Arturo Lopez, from Elite Building Diagnostics, to conduct a system evaluation — part of the due diligence of acquisition. Team Lizzack/Horning’s role ended after the sale closed. Next, the Williamses began working with Debra Hoffman, President of System Office Design, whose company provided the interior design and furniture and coordinated with the architect and contractor throughout the project.


Hoffman facilitated communication between the Williamses and additional members in the alliance who were busy with other steps in the process to convert the building into a cardiology practice and find tenants for the other floors. Hoffman successfully guided the decision-making processes because of the familiarity amongst all CREA members, which enabled a seamless tenant fit-out process.


Dr. Williams’ building needed an architect to study where and how to orient his practice on the building’s first floor, which was about 3,000-square-feet. The architect put the drawing together, and after a few phone calls and emails, a team of CREA members came together to complete the project on time and within budget.


And that’s the beauty of the CREA model: in this case, the CREA members worked as a team to make the end product beautiful and functional. This team approach streamlines the process and saves time – which effectively saves money. The relationships among each team member ensured that each supported each other to complete the job professionally and properly.


As the project point person, Mrs. Williams felt comfortable working with the team because everyone knew each other and understood each other’s role. These relationships increased the Williams’ confidence because Mrs. Williams could rely on that competency and collective drive to produce a quality product within their budget.


Arturo Lopez, president of Elite Building Diagnostics, Inc., says, “It was because of our association and the networking opportunities provided by CREA that enabled us to serve Dr. and Mrs. Williams in their purchase decision and to build goodwill in our niche marketplace.”


Lisa Wagner, VP and Business Development Officer of ConnectOne Bank agrees. “What an awesome team of people working together to make this happen for our client.”


Members Who Contributed to the Project

Becht Engineering (Rich Burke, Principal, Vice President) inspected the building and provided a structural assessment. Because interior and exterior finishes often obscure structural elements, indirect indications of structural distress — cracked or displaced finishes or features, unlevel or out of plumb conditions — offer clues to potentially serious structural deficiencies. After examining each room and removing dropped ceiling tiles to gain visual access to the second floor and roof framing, the inspecting engineer noted zero indications of structural problems.


System Office Design (Debra Hoffman, President) created the interior finishes and provided waiting room furniture that complemented the design. The clients wanted an interior that reflected their logo and brand identity, which meant using charcoal, yellow, and red to create a modern look. These colors were featured in the paint, wall coverings, flooring, cabinetry, and seating fabric used throughout the office. We maintained ongoing communication with our client to review progress and receive feedback in the event that we needed to make adjustments.


Catcord Construction (Dominick Catalano, President) met with the owner and architect prior to the design phase to establish initial design parameters, budgets, and milestone dates. They solidified the final cost and inclusive schedule for the entire project, from obtaining permits through construction, hand-off, and move-in. The construction phase went flawlessly, hitting milestone dates ahead of schedule thanks to exceptional coordination and communication with the owner and many other CREA members including the architect, designer, telecom, data, security, energy specialist, furniture, movers, property management, and financer.


ConnectOne Bank (Lisa Wagner, Vice President & Business Development) met with the client in October of 2018 to begin the process of creating a proposal based on their requirements. We collected the financial data needed to propose a bank term sheet for the project. After several months, the client accepted our offer and we closed the loan.


Elite Building Diagnostics (Arturo Lopez, President) evaluated the commercial building that the clients hoped to use for their medical business. The team evaluated the building’s structural integrity and condition of the plumbing, electrical, structural, and HVAC components. Our goal was to provide an accurate assessment of each mechanical component and provide our clients with the information they needed to prioritize repairs and accurately calculate a preliminary budget necessary to address issues and make upgrades.


NAI James E Hanson (Darren Lizzack and Randy Horning, Associate Vice Presidents) contacted Office Management Services (Michael Sean McGeary, President) to provide an energy efficiency study for the commercial property. The new owners hoped to upgrade their lighting and HVAC systems. This audit included a savings analysis that predicted the ROI from replacing all interior and exterior lighting with new LED lighting and replacing the three HVAC rooftop units with new, more efficient models. Our team successfully applied for and received a $52,363.39+ grant to offset the upgrades and which resulted in an annual savings of $16,396.34 for the client and an ROI of 1.78 years on their initial capital investment of $29,129.91 which they’ll repay over 10 months in an interest-free loan. This financing enabled our clients to install internal LED flat panels which lend a dramatic new, fresh appearance in the tenant and common areas of the building.


Ridgewood Moving Services (Cynthia Meyer, President) became involved in the project several months before moving day. Dr. and Mrs. Williams contracted with the company upon the recommendation of several alliance members. The company’s general manager coordinated the move to the new state-of-the-art facility. The client even realized a cost savings from the initial estimate when the move took one fewer hour to complete.


In His Own Words…

When Dr. Williams initially considered this project, he worried about controlling costs, finding a good location with decent patient access and adequate space for equipment and testing. Referred to Lizzack and Horning by another CREA member, Williams appreciated their knowledge of the landscape and financials for a commercial property. Williams says, “[Team Lizzack/Horning] were patient and great communicators and helped us believe in our dream.”


Williams says, “I valued the team’s expertise, patience, and ability to communicate complicated business/real estate issues in ways we could understand. And equally important was the support staff and team they put together to complete the project. The recommendations and options allowed us to vet the team members and choose whom we felt comfortable with, which led to the development of an exceptional team.”


Williams praised the partnership for its attention to detail. “The service stood out from others because of members’ abilities to listen to and address our concerns and embrace us as part of the team,” he says. “Celebrating the finished product — and knowing it finished on time made us happy.”


Williams says that the benefits he and his practice experienced as a result of working with CREA members included the “tremendous working space for our practice, great introduction to commercial real estate investing, and the new partnership with Hanson and company.


“CREA members know how to deliver, because they listen and take the time to help shape and implement the process to make dreams come true.”


Looking Toward the Future

CREA United is looking forward to featuring member collaboration success stories in the future. The organization recognizes the value delivered to both clients and alliance members when the group members create dynamic teams that deliver superior results.


CREA United is a group of professionals with morals, good ethics, and integrity — in other words, people you can trust, because that’s who you do business with. Being a part of CREA United facilitates professionals’ abilities to build relationships that last a lifetime.