First Ascent Breaks Ground

After years of planning, lots of exploration, multiple designs and tons of negotiation, First Ascent, Chicago’s first and only indoor rock climbing focused gym and training center broke ground on their new center on October 15, 2014. Although the overcast Fall day was a touch cold, the spirits and enthusiasm of approximately 50 attendees was nothing but bright and warm. First Ascent’s team of Dan Bartz, Jon Shepard, Joe Zentmeyer, and Dave Hudson, led the event and highlighted in their remarks how hard they have worked to arrive at this dreamed for day, while also praising their investors, lenders, the City of Chicago and specifically Alderman Ray Colon, real estate and design consultants, and contractor. Each participant was encouraged to participate in this communal event by grabbing a hard hat and shovel and dig into the site of the future gym.

The amazing celebration of this monumental event continued with a special party thrown at Revolution Brewery Tap Room located a literal stones throw away from the site. In classic climbing style, nothing paired better than pizza, beer and grand stories of the days accomplishments. is honored to have been selected to be part of the First Ascent team to provide real estate and construction overview consultancy. Grand Opening is only a couple months away.

5 Essential Tools for Grand Opening Crunch Crew

Avalon GOIt is a week before the big day – Grand Opening. Tenants are merchandising (hopefully). Development and Construction are obtaining municipal sign-offs and cleaning the property. Management, Operations and Marketing are preparing for the cast of thousands which will flock to the center. The last week is a push and all the last minute unforeseen items start to appear which the Owner’s “Crunch Crew” need to manage, fix, or hide.

Here are 5 essential tools that every member of the Owner’s “Crew” need to have in their backpack to quickly tackle some of these last minute challenges:

1) Black Duct Tape
This stuff is so versatile, it can literally do anything. Whether you use it to hold together various dissimilar materials, post notes, act as punchlist deficiency item indicator, or as a quick substitute for paint, it does it all.


Cost:  $6

2) Paint Brush(es)
Blemishes, nicks, dents, scratches and eyesores occur frequently on a job and a last minute hit of paint can quickly conceal the problem until proper repair is done after GO.


Cost:  $10

3) Outlet Circuit Analyzer
Access to power is essential. Nothing is more frustrating and time consuming than trying to find a live outlet. Test first before plugging in with this handy tool. Finding an operating plug can make the difference between success and failure.


Cost:  $5

4) Utility Knife / Box cutter
The amount of cardboard on the site is insane. Nothing comes in more handy to cut down boxes, open plastic straps, snap drywall, or carve down edges like this simple tool.


Cost:  $5

5) Work Gloves
You inevitably will be moving tons of stuff. Boxes, brooms, wood, drywall, planters, you name it and you do not want to get hurt or have some of that gunk on your hands minutes before shaking a big-wig’s hand.


Cost:  $10


5 Bonus Tools:
6. Sharpie(s)
Writes on anything.

7. Tape Measure
Measure twice, cut once.

8. Extension Cord
Get power where you need it.

9. Broom
You can never sweep enough times.

10. Silicone Adhesive (paintable)
Makes everything weathertight.

I carry all of this stuff in a small backpack made by Patagonia (Atom Sling) so that I can have my hands free, but quick and easy access to these and other tools.
These 5+ tools mentioned above can quickly and easily solve just about any problem encountered in the waning moments before Grand Opening, shy of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. Don’t visit the project before GO without them.

Top 10+ Signage Review Notes

I love signage! I’ve been reviewing A LOT of signs in preparation for the Grand Opening of Avalon, a 385,000 SF mixed-use center in Alpharetta, GA. I shared my Top 5 favorite (and most common) Signage Review Comments on the Tenant Coordination Forum on LinkedIn. After some great discussion, below please find for your downloading pleasure and use, two sets of standard Landlord notes which contain all of the groups favs.

(Right click and “Save Image As”)

Signage General Notes2


5 Reasons Why TurboScan kicks app!

I love digital files, but I hate scanning paper and most particularly receipts. While traveling on business this week, my client asked for copies of the receipts from my trip so that they could verify my invoice. Ugh! If I were back in my office, I would have gotten the job done by using my NEAT scanner or my all-in-one printer/copier/scanner/faxer (when was the last time I used that function?). However, I was at the airport and they wanted them that instant to get into their pay run. What to do?

TurboScann_logoThen it dawned on me – TurboScan. This mobile device app, which is available for both Operating systems, uses the camera feature of your phone to quickly and accurately scan paperwork. An associate of mine recommended it to me and now was the perfect chance to take her our for a test run. It worked like a charm and my check is in the mail. Below see 3 reasons why it kicks app.

#1 It is really easy to use
7 steps and you are done. Click app > click camera tab > take picture > reposition red points (rarely required) > choose contrast (of of 5 choices) > add more sheets or done > share.

#2 It gets it right
The app selects the correct boundaries of the document with a red box nearly perfectly every time. If it is off, the receipt is crinkled or bent or you only want a portion of the document, then the points and sliders easily allow you to adjust as needed.

#3 High quality scan
The images it takes provide a high contrast and make the text very legible. I like to leave the contrast in the second darkest mode to get the best view. I rarely have to change it.

#4 Allows multiple pagesTurboScan-multipage
You do not need to perform individual scans of each document or receipt and then manually combine them. Once you have completed one look down and to the right, down and to the right, down … and to the right for the page+ icon. Press it and start scanning your next page. Boom! Auto-combine.

#5 It is worth every penny
All of the function is supremely worth the 299 pennies it costs to download. Very few apps value exceed their price tag, but TurboScan, hands down, kills it.

Now if only I can find a way to never have to submit an expense report again; that is an app I’d certainly buy.