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More on Uncommon Grounds

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: May 30, 2013 at 11:50 am •  Published: November 21, 2008

Here’s another take on the post I wrote the other day on the pending closing of Uncommon Grounds from Lynette Hendrix, assistant to the coffee shop’s landlord, Gary Berlin:

Janice (owner of Uncommon Grounds) pays a base rent of 666.00. Her lease states there will be addition rent based on a percent of building operating expenses multiplied by the sq footage she has. We discoverd this additional rent right after we took over but being the nice guy Gary is he didn’t ask Janice to pay the difference which could be as much as 200 per month.  Gary has been loosing money each month having Janice in there.  He spends approx 200 per month cleaning and stocking bathrooms that are suppose to be for Janices customers only but the keys kept by Uncommon Grounds are given to anyone who asks. Gary supports a full time public bathroom.

Uncommon Grounds rent included all utilities.  Do you realize how much utilities have gone up over the last 15 years?  The price Gary offered Janice of 1350.00 was very fair and well thought out.  Not highway robbery like you implied in your blog.

That space is worth $1350.00. We have done the math on what we have to get for that space to make it work for us.

Your blog made him out to be a Greedy building owner like other Bricktown owners. That is so not true. Gary has made every effort to better his building. He works hard and is dedicated to making it work.

Business owners should be able set rent for their tenants with out fear of getting bashed by the press.

What happened to getting all of the facts ?  You have met Gary, you have seen his enthuasim and eagerness to make his building better.

Uncommon Grounds chooses not to renew at the rate he increases. That is their choice.



You got one thing right about me. I am the new kid in town.  I am not a fat cat looking to get rich at the expense of Bricktown as you implied in your blog.

Yes, I did ask for an increase in rent on the space where Uncommon Grounds is located.

The previous lease is 15 years old. In fact there were portions of the lease that I choose not to enforce such as the payment of a percent of the operating cost based on the square feet. I choose to just ignore this and when the new lease amount was determined I factored that in. This figure was approx $200 per month for the 17 months I haved owned the building. My rental rate I offered Uncommon Grounds figures out to approx 30% increase with this factored in as part of the orginal lease amount. I also compared prices at other locations throughout the metro and found my rate to be fair with everything factored in.  Keep in mind this figure I have offered to Uncommon Grounds includes, electricity (restaurants have many electrical pieces of refrigerated eqiptment that office space do not have) , air conditioning, heat, water,sewer,garbage and twenty four hour security montoring.It also includes cleaning the restrooms and providing supplies for a restroom that is kept locked and for the use of Uncommon Grounds Customers only. The deck is also available for Uncommon Grounds customers and that is free of charge.

All of these expenses have doubled in the last 15 years.  I believe my new lease figure is fair and in fact I have quoted other companies even higher rent than I have offered Uncommon Grounds.  I have space on the third and fourth floors for $6.00 per sq ft, I have space on the fifth floor for $8.00 per sq ft.  I am not sure where the figure of $20.00 per sq ft came into play in reference to my property but that figure is incorrect.  Smaller spaces at ground level in a high traffic area tend to be alittle higher per sq ft than larger spaces. I. E. Uncommon Grounds at  only approx 1000 sq ft.

When I purchased the Mercantile Building in May of 2007 City Walk, Third Degree and Uncommon Grounds were on the verge of leaving the property. The previous owner had

discord with all tenants. I immediate began negotiations with City Walk to secure a new Lease with them, their lease had expired the previous year. I  negociated without the help of Lawyers a deal that renewed City Walks lease for another 8 years. This figure was approximately 25% higher than their previous lease done in 2000.  City Walk owners were pleased we came to a fair agreement. Previous owner wanted to tripple their rent.  Third Degree Advertising has agreed to lease additional space at only $2.00 per sq ft more than their orginal 8 year old lease. That includes me doing 75% of the build out.

I know there are serious problems in Bricktown.  I do not want to be labled as one of the poblems. I am a solution type of business owner and believe fair business practices will benifit all concerned .If any of my tenants have problems I immediately address them and resolve them to the satisfaction of all concerned.  When I first purchased the property Janice informed me the air conditioning in Uncommon Grounds was not keeping it cool enough. I immediately found a solution and implemented it with the help of City Walk.

They were soon provided with a cool atmosphere.

I am a hands on owner. Of the ten times I have seen Steve in Bricktown I have been in my work clothes probably seven of those times. I have repaired severe flooding problems that were re-occuring in the basement flooding City Walk, I have addressed an obnixous odor coming from a cracked and improperly vented sewer pipe beneath the building foundation, re-constructed the wheel chair ramp entirely, redecorated the common area on the first floor, built dumpster screens to cover our dumpsters as required by the City of Oklahoma City,replaced the old faded , tattered awnings with new black awnings and many  other improvements too numerous to mention.

Each time I go to my building I police the trash and ask myself “What can I do to make my property better?”

Now you have the rest of the story.


Gary Berlin

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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