Hi, float fans. A quick update on where we’re at: we’re currently working hard on finding the right space to begin building Float. It’s a hard problem, and possibly the single most important decision we’re going to have to make, so we’re learning to be patient.
For amusement value, let me list all the reasons we’ve had to reject spaces we’ve looked at:
Too far from public transportation.
Part of the building was falling off.
No ADA access.
No HVAC system.
No fire-safety sprinkler system.
Water main for the building too small to run the number of showers we need.
Probable DEP hazardous-waste cleanup required (it was an autobody shop).
Landlord was trying to sell the building (we need to do around $100,000 worth of construction, and cannot afford to risk needing to do it again next year).
Building the showers and drains we need would require trenching through concrete slab, around an in-use office data center.
Landlord stopped answering our questions when we asked about making sure we would have our own electrical panel.
Large empty space above our unit likely to become occupied by a sports bar.
Large non-empty space above our unit already occupied by a gospel church, with nightly services.
We’re not complaining, but we are making sure we take the time to get this right. Part of our problem is simply that January and February are crappy times to look for real estate — businesses are no more likely to plan to move in the winter than households are.
It’s been what seems like a long time since I’ve had concrete news of progress to report, but it’s not for lack of work happening here at Float! I thought perhaps I should catch up anyone who’s interested on the kinds of hoops we’re jumping through.
We have two loan applications in at the bank for the major funding we need, and we’re in a wait-and-see mode. Ideally we want to complete what’s called an equipment lease to purchase the float tanks themselves — this is something like “rent to own”, where we would borrow the money to buy the tanks using the tanks themselves as collateral. The obstacle is to convince the bank that the tanks are legitimately resaleable in the event Float (god forbid) can’t pay our bills; if we can do that the interest rate and terms are excellent. But right now we’re playing ping-pong answering sceptical questions. Fingers crossed.
We’ve also started seriously looking at locations. This is such an exercise in compromise: the space that’s probably our leading contender is just outside Davis Square, but it’s being advertised as office space and we’ll need to talk to the landlord about whether our plans are something they’d be willing to support. The second contender is in East Somerville just off Broadway and looks great, but there’s a church meeting group upstairs. Soundproofing away the sound of dancing on our ceiling could be a tall order. And there’s a third location, a wildcard that might be fantastic, but it’s way too big for us, and we couldn’t afford it unless the landlord is willing to subdivide. Also, it’s in North Cambridge, and that would mean restarting negotiations with a new city’s Board of Health.
We’re also talking to architects, building contractors, and city planning staff. Pictures and news when we have something concrete to report. Fingers crossed that it won’t be long!
I’m excited to announce we have a name! I picked up our business certificate last week. We will be called…
FLOAT: Float Tanks and Massage
Nice and simple, right?
What’s going on right now? Well, we are busy reading and learning and chipping away at all the tasks that need to be done when preparing to open a business. The two big projects right now are: 1) the business plan, so we know how much money we need; and 2) the variance request I need to submit to the Board of Health. Basically, the state sanitation code mentions float tanks as a “special purpose pool,” but the regulations are clearly written for hot tubs and other hydrotherapy. In order to get a permit, we must demonstrate that the changes we propose make sense, and also that safety and sanitation remains our priority.
We’re also in touch with a commercial leasing agent to check out available space around here. We want FLOAT to be in Somerville – we live here, and love it – but we’ll see what’s out there.
Until next time…
p.s. Colin and I will be at the Float Conference in Portland OR next month. We can’t wait!