Getting a Build Space

Hello, we are a veteran team in the Dallas area (Mckinney, specifically) and have recently lost our school workspace due to various reasons that at this point are irrelevant. We have never had to find an off-campus workspace and have no idea how to go about this. I know it’s close to the start of build season, and we have a backup, but this happened to us last-minute and we simply don’t know how to approach businesses about this. Our main sponsor doesn’t have room and doesn’t want the liability, and we have thought about asking a local storage company to sponsor us by providing a storage unit or something but again don’t know how to approach them. How did your teams get their off-campus build spaces, and do you know of any opportunities in the Mckinney area? We also want to find a space very close to the school, which can be an issue given that there aren’t any engineering firms within 10 minutes other than our main sponsor. We could work at another company’s space, but as I’ve said we don’t know how to approach them since there’s not necessarily a direct impact our team has on their business. Anyways, I’m going to stop before I get too repetitive, and hope that the wonderful community here can give us some good advice.

Just for grins… is there a mall nearby that could cut you a discount on currently-vacant shop space? Some teams use that option, the downside of which is that random passersby see the open shop and drop by to see what’s going on–oh, wait, that’s also the upside (see: visibility, sponsor recruitment, mentor recruitment, and outreach).

I would suggest, quite simply, look up the company you’d like to work with and call them. Or talk to a local real estate agent to see if there’s any open-ish spaces for a decent rate (that maybe you can negotiate lower).

Keep strip malls in mind too, a team in our area used such a space a few years back. Slightly fewer issues with passerbys and generally cheaper if you do have to pay something for the space. Depending on your sponsor, you might even be able to request the sponsor help you with additional funds to cover the space.

I might also suggest looking into any vacant/underutilized school buildings the district has (assuming you’re still on good terms with them and lost the space for other reasons); the same team I mentioned above currently works out of a vacant elementary school (they have the whole school to themselves) and they just have to keep the place clean and their sponsor helps cover upkeep costs.

For a couple of years, one of the Houston area teams worked out of empty stores in small suburban strip malls (not on major highways). I think they got a discount, as the previous two posters have suggested. One of the mentors joked that they were always next to a dentist and a nail salon.