If you have been looking for a retail, restaurant, office or other commercial space, you’ve probably heard the terms “white box” or “vanilla box” used to describe spaces. White boxing is a common type of commercial construction project for us, but what is a white box?

“White box” is a term used to refer to the condition of a space at turnover to a new client. It usually includes:

  1. Minimum number of operational, ADA compliant bathrooms for the size of the space.
  2. Electric panel and minimal circuits.
  3. Lights.
  4. One open room, in addition to the bathrooms.
  5. Primed walls ready to paint.
  6. HVAC unit and maybe ducts.
  7. Acoustic ceiling.
  8. Exterior doors.

It does not usually include:

  1. Additional bathrooms beyond minimum requirements,
  2. Flooring.
  3. Partition walls.
  4. Finish paint.
  5. Electrical wiring suited to your business.

Spaces are leased to retail, restaurant, or office tenants in this condition for a number of reasons.

The first is that a space generally shows well in this state. Most people who not in the commercial real estate or commercial construction business have a hard time looking past the mess of a vacant space in the condition it was left in by the previous tenant, and visualizing a completely different use.

Second, it is a standard starting point for an interior buildout, at which all the money spent going forward is for YOUR buildout, not addressing things from the past, such as demo of the previous buildout, or deferred maintenance problems.

Comparing deals from one white box to another is much easier than comparing spaces when maybe one still has the previous tenants interior construction in place, and maybe another is a cold dark shell. The white box is much less likely to have unforeseen expenses lurking than a space that has not been touched since being vacated.

If you are looking for a space to build your business, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, just message us!