Lifetime Media Leases New Commercial Real Estate in Westport
Displaced by the Deer Creek Flood Mitigation project, this video production company found surprisingly well-suited commercial real Estate for lease in Westport.
Celebrating 20 Years in St. Louis
Eric Habert is the President and CEO of Lifetime Media. It’s a video production company he established in 2000, just two years after he graduated from Truman State University. Lifetime discovers what makes an organization unique and tells that story with clarity and emotion.
They have a diverse client roster across both for-profits and non-profits, including:
- The American Heart Association
- Scrubs and Beyond
- PGA of America
- Louis Business Journal
Lifetime’s work falls within three separate spheres.
First, they create internal communications videos: CEO messaging, town hall meetings, and training content. Second, they help create outward-facing marketing videos and other brand stories that drive the mission of an organization. And finally, they work with a variety of events—even creating virtual events.
Habert said, said, “Everyone has their own reasons for creating video, and we’re ultimately creating video solutions for our partners to accomplish their mission at hand.”
Recently, however, they needed someone to partner with them as they found themselves in a completely unexpected transition.
Losing a Commercial Real Estate Lease to Eminent Domain
Lifetime Media spent its first seven years in an 1100 square foot space in South County. Then, they upgraded to a 5,400 square foot office lease in Brentwood near Manchester Rd and Hanley.
Habert invested heavily in build-out. As a video production house, Lifetime’s commercial real estate space has particular needs:
- Soundproofed warehouse space with a built-in soundstage
- Soundproofed offices correctly lit for video editing
- Secure storage space
- A drive-in garage so crew members can load trucks with sensitive equipment in inclement weather
However, after thirteen years in their custom-built environment, Lifetime Media was faced with an unexpected, mandated move. He said, “We were very happy with the location, but we had been caught up in the Brentwood flood mitigation program. And so, our building was subject to eminent domain and would be demolished.”
Habert and his team were both too surprised and too busy to let the news sink in. They were in the middle of a massive video production project. They waited two whole months before sitting down to digest the news and create a plan.
Overwhelmed, they began to look for a commercial real estate broker who could help. His friend, Adam Crossley of REEL IMPACT Audiovisual, had purchased a building for his company several years before. He connected Habert with Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation.
Because Habert hadn’t had time to consider what kind of buildings would work for Lifetime, Aschinger helped him assess the company’s needs by introducing him to several kinds of spaces. But there was an issue from the beginning that put Lifetime in an awkward position.
Habert said, “In eminent domain, the city doesn’t pay for the build-out of the next property. They would only pay for us to move. That made it a very challenging process for us because we had significant capital already tied up where we were. And we couldn’t take any of it with us because it’s already built-in.”
After viewing a dozen properties, they focused on a handful of buildings and even made a few offers. Habert said, “We looked everywhere: Fenton, Westport, Brentwood, Maplewood, and Soulard. It was fun to think through what we really wanted to do with this space.”
Through the process, Habert realized something he hadn’t before.
Lifetime had already outgrown their space but hadn’t recognized it. He began to see all of the little workarounds they had created to keep functioning, even though the building was no longer optimal.
He realized this was the perfect time to look for commercial real estate to lease. And, before he knew it, Habert got a surprising call from Aschinger that promised to provide Lifetime with everything they needed (and more).
Custom Commercial Real Estate for Lease in Westport
While Aschinger was helping Habert to define his company’s actual needs, Adam Crossley (of REEL IMPACT) had come to a separate decision. His business model had evolved, and they needed less of the office building they owned to carry out their daily operations.
The space they were hoping to lease out was 6400 square feet. It included a large studio with a sound stage, a smaller studio as its counterpart, editing suites, and a drive-in garage. Crossley called Aschinger to find a tenant.
Immediately, Aschinger put Habert and Crossley together.
Habert said, “We got an upgrade. It’s a nicer production facility than we had, and we’re really excited about that. And all the infrastructure was already there.”
With the extra space, they’re able to work more efficiently and comfortably as a team. Habert said, “Our crew really appreciate it.” Then came the bonus: The building is solar-powered, reducing Lifetime’s electricity bill to an estimated $25 a month.
Will Aschinger helped both Habert and Crossley negotiate a mutually beneficial deal, and Lifetime Media moved into the new space on April 1, 2020.
A Fresh Face for Lifetime Media
Habert knows Crossley’s business well and sees them as partners, not competitors, saying, “There’s a lot of synergy between our two businesses.” Lifetime Media has also been able to bring on a new director of photography and hired a new salesperson.
They also know that the current market needs their ability to live-stream, create e-learning opportunities, and capture video for broadcast. They’ve even partnered with educational institutions to provide Digital Graduation Ceremonies and other virtual events.
About Aschinger, Habert said, “We really enjoyed working with him. He understood what our needs were and asked a lot of thought-provoking questions, bringing up some crucial points. He always did everything for our best interests first—we had no doubt that was the case.”
Does your current commercial lease really fit your needs?
Most businesses do it—they get used to the space they’re in, even if it’s hindering their growth. Whether it’s sunk cost of just routine, it can be hard to notice when your leased property is no longer right for you.
You may need to ask yourself:
- Is our lease set up for our current business model?
- Do we have to keep creating workarounds for a too-small building?
- Would a different space improve the lives of my employees or customers?
- Does our current building cost us more in lease and utilities than it should?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a better space available for you. Our Hilliker brokers know how to pinpoint your needs, create a process that focuses your search, then find the right lease—or purchase—for you.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to optimize your real estate for your business as it exists today, contact broker Will Aschinger for a consultation.