*Photo courtesy of USF Health

Healthcare providers can reap many benefits when they work with real estate experts who really understand them and their needs. That’s the case with the University of South Florida (USF) Health that has been partnering with Colliers International (Colliers) Healthcare for many years.

Tampa-based USF Health first contacted Juan Vega, Executive Managing Director, Colliers Healthcare Services/Office Services, in 2009.

“They approached us to evaluate a lease that needed to be renewed on a 48,000-square-foot facility and they wanted to figure out if it was a good deal,” explains Mr. Vega, a 20-year healthcare real estate veteran who works out of Colliers’ Tampa office. “We found out they were being overcharged by $10 to $12 per square foot, so we recommended a strategy for renegotiating the lease. We were successful with that, and ever since then, they use Colliers almost exclusively to evaluate all of their off-campus real estate needs.”

Joseph Jackson, USF Health Director of Operations & Facilities Management, regularly seeks out Colliers’ advice on leasing and general commercial real estate issues. He is responsible for about 1.5 million square feet of on- and off-campus facilities for USF Health, which is comprised of the Morsani College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Public Health, College of Pharmacy, School of Physical Therapy, USF Health Care and the Physician Assistant Program in the Tampa Bay area.

Mr. Jackson remembers well his first leasing transaction with Colliers. “Our off-campus facility leases had historically gone through legal review without an in-depth analysis of market rates, fees, etc. When the facilities and operations functions became my responsibility, I knew that I needed to look critically at the leases to ensure that, as a large major tenant, we were using USF Health’s leverage to our advantage,” says Mr. Jackson. “I found that some of the rates, especially the common area maintenance fees, didn’t appear to be in line with current market rates. But with Juan’s and Colliers’ expertise, market knowledge and negotiating skills, we were able to negotiate a lease that was significantly more favorable for USF Health.”

Colliers also has worked with USF Health on numerous other challenging leasing situations. The two companies are currently in the middle of renewing the lease on a 38,000-square-foot building and relocating administrative staff and faculty to the facility, and to other facilities close by.

In addition, Colliers regularly counsels USF Health on the most appropriate healthcare facilities using its propriety analytics platform, Colliers360. The program analyzes current supply and demand for the facility and specialty, market share, local competition, demographics, the potential for growth and much more.

“Colliers can analyze all of the current inventory of space – Class A, B and C – in any given geographical area and give us a very detailed list of the options,” says Mr. Jackson. “But they know us, so they filter the list and give us only the options that fit our strategic plan and our needs.”

“Colliers has a very good platform – I would say it’s second to none – and allows us to analyze real estate as it pertains to healthcare,” says Mr. Vega. “For example, if USF gives us a potential location and says they would like to set up an orthopedic practice there, we can tell them if there’s an oversupply in that area or if there’s a demand based on Medicare and Medicaid inflow and outflow in that market. A lot of firms don’t have the tools to accommodate those analytical requirements needed by the client.”

Mr. Jackson noted that Colliers’ comprehensive space analysis has really helped USF Health make smart, cost-effective decisions about its new and renovated real estate.

“Space on campus is a hot commodity but some functions don’t need to be on campus,” he says. “Colliers was instrumental in finding a less expensive space to relocate our patient access/call center and it’s conveniently located literally across the street from our main university Tampa campus.”

Mr. Jackson says Colliers stands out from other firms he has used in the past.

“The Colliers team has really good market knowledge and they know their clients and understand their needs. They’re also very proactive in alerting us about new opportunities, such as a new building that’s being developed or a major tenant that’s leaving a building. This really helps us with our strategic planning.”

Mr. Vega noted, “At Colliers, we have extensive knowledge of the healthcare and life sciences areas of the industry and we know how real estate fits into the healthcare sector. We have a good partnership with USF Health, we work hard for them and we protect their interests. They understand that, and appreciate the value we bring to their organization.”

“Colliers has been very responsive to every issue that arises and every need we have,” says Mr. Jackson. “If we need information at a moment’s notice, such as prices, square footage or space, Colliers is able to provide it very quickly. This has been an invaluable experience for us.”