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View Full Version : Possible Haunt Buildings - Need Your Thoughts!



Front Yard Fright
05-10-2009, 02:23 PM
We recently went out and looked at some buildings for a possible pro haunt for 2010. I was planning on staying home for 09, and then start in the new place in 10 however, if we get something figured out soon enough, I'd really like to get into the new place THIS year. So far we've looked at 6 buildings, and we are really interested in two of them.

Here are some pictures of the buildings: http://frighthaunt.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=11

And here's some info about each property...

CrawDaddy's - located in the heart of downtown Waverly. It's a total of 3,000 sq ft with two apartments up top with tenants already living in them (Will help GREATLY for paying the mortgage!) It is in the flood zone, but has been clean out and fixed up since the flood last June and has all new electrical and furnace. In the back I was thinking about doing a possible costume shop that the people would exit into after getting out of the haunt.
Asking price is 110,000.

"Big Blue" - I don't think we ever got an actual measurement but it's probably around 9,000 sq ft. There's potential for apartments up top, but what they have up there now would have to be almost completely redone. There's A LOT of space to work with here. We could have around 4 or 5 apartments up top, AND a loft for me to stay. There is NO electrical, NO plumbing (besides sewer), and NO furnace. That alone will cost a pretty penny. They are asking 110,000 but we all know that's far too much for what the building has to offer. We are talking about just getting in there for right now, and maybe fix it up over the next couple years to get some renters in there.. But like I said, it's going to be A LOT of work AND money. Our city also has grants for tourist attractions and we are hoping that we could tap into that to help pay for the building. There are a couple other city organizations that we could probably get some help from as far as fixing the place up.

We are calling the bank tomorrow to find out how much we qualify for, loan wise. My parents are leaning towards CrawDaddy's because there's little to know work to be done. However, due to the size, I'm sure I'll outgrow the space rather quickly. But as far as Big Blue, there's A LOT of work that we'd have to do it it. HOWEVER, we wouldn't have to get all the apartments up top running right away. I figure we could work on it over the summer, and maybe get one or two up and going. But then again, we'd lose that extra income to help pay the mortgage.

What do you guys think I should do??? Go the safe route and go with the smaller, finished building, or go big or go home with the large building needing lots of work?

PumpkinGIRL
05-10-2009, 03:42 PM
I think Going with a familar space is fine as long as you have enough room to decorate and get the effects in you want for your haunt. I have used my yard for years and it works fine. I hope this helped.

Jim Warfield
05-10-2009, 05:58 PM
Remodeling a second floor apartment is alot more work than doing the same thing on a ground floor location. Every tool, every object has to be carried up and everything carried down continiously.
Second floor apartments usually also need attic work done for electrical, heating & air and plumbing venting which means after you walk up the stairs then you have to work off a step ladder.
Yes, I have "been there and done" all of this before.

If the one place is located in a flood plain, can you buy insurance? I wouldn't bother with such a location if it could flood.
The western edge of this county boarders the Miss. River and a flood happened in downtown Savanna, Ill. and in all of the years of such things happening only ONE person ever successfully got Federal money after the flood for her business to be rebuilt because she is the only one to ever successfully fill out ALL of the necesarry paperwork.
How about that?

Jim Warfield
05-10-2009, 10:29 PM
Today we cut down a large tree in our backyard, which got me thinking, "I have cut down maybe as many as 8 big trees and numerous threatening limbs hanging over the house or out-buildings in the 20whatever years that I have owned this place."
None of these trim/cut operations were ever simple nor easy. Mostly because the trees themselves were compromised in some way, rotted, half rotted or had fallen half-way over and were leaning on other trees, all of which can make it very unpredictable as far as what is going to happen when when the saw begins cutting.
Death and injury come quickly from a falling tree. It could have happened today here to me, luck of the draw.
I have hired some tree work done for me and they did it well, but I can't afford to ever hire many others very often to do my work for me.
Termites work but too slowly.

Boni
05-11-2009, 08:40 AM
I think you will outgrow 3000 square feet rather quickly. Not only will it confine the haunt space, but leave almost no room for a work shop, actors room, storage of any sort.

evilintentions
05-11-2009, 12:08 PM
I also think that you will outgrow 3000 sq ft. Big blue looks like an awesome building. Is that a cargo elevator in there?

Front Yard Fright
05-13-2009, 09:58 PM
Well we found out that in order to take out a loan, we'd have to come up with 20% of whatever we buy the buidling for. The asking price for Big Blue is 110,000 (It's TOTALLY not worth that though).

I e-mail the realtor and asked her to talk to the owner about maybe renting the space out to us for this season, and then NEXT year we could put a downpayment on the building.

I'll let you know what I find out!

Allen H
05-13-2009, 11:05 PM
I would go with the bigger building.

Jim Warfield
05-14-2009, 12:15 AM
Looked into how much the property taxes on each building would be?
Mere square footage is the commonist determining factor but location, market value and location can also come into play, and of course selling price.
Once you over pay for a place the tax man says, "Well, it must be worth that much because you paid that much for it!"
Buy cheap and it's all ready half sold.(at a profit)

Raycliff Manor
05-14-2009, 10:32 AM
Sorry to chime in so late. Here are the questions I'd be trying to get answers to...

1. For each building, have there been or are there other haunted attractions in the area and how well did/do they do?

2. If there is no history of haunted attractions in a 50 to 100 mile radius, what other offerings are in the area that share a common target audience with you? (i.e. Family Ent. Center, bowling alley, skate park, movies, etc.) Check with them. Also, never forget about contacting the City Advertising and Promotion Commission (if there is one), the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, etc. to solicit their input)

3. I agree with the others, you may quickly out-grow 3,000 square feet. Of course it depends on the type of show you plan to provide. If you are planning a more theatrical show with guests spending more time in each room/set, you may be able to work with this.

4. This is a big one! What are the building inspector and fire marshal requirements on each of the buildings? They should be the very first point of contact. You probably already are aware of this, but I just wanted to mention it. Being hit with a really big and unexpected expense to bring a building up to code can take a business down fast.

Man, my mind is reeling! There are so many considerations. I would like to say this... Although now is a great time to buy and get a great deal, there's nothing like being able to test run an area under a lease/option so that if you determine the market in the location isn't able to sustain the business because there just isn't a large enough target audience or interest, you aren't stuck with a building you now have to sell under duress. If you can get a lease with an option to buy, with an aggreed upon purchase price and a portion of the lease being applied toward the down payment if you choose to buy, this is what I'd recommend. Of course if your research shows that there is a definite strong market in the area and you are confident that your attendance will at least sustain the business, then by all means negotiate a good purchase price! There are a lot of motivated sellers right now and your bank may hold the note on a property or two that you can get a great deal on!

Last word of advice before I shut up. LOL Find out which bank in your area writes the highest volume of SBA loans and go to that bank to apply for an SBA loan! They are far more likely to get an "alternative / seasonal" business loan approved by SBA when they present with a package of many others. You will need to convince them that you've done your homework and your are presenting them with a viable business. If they are a community supportive bank, they will appreciate anything you can share with them as to how your business will benefit the area residents and businesses. If you are a for-profit, I'd recommend you include in your mission statement and business plan to make charitable contributions to organizations that are held in high regard in the area. It's good business sense and it's good karma too!

Best of luck with this! I hope my "sound bytes" are helpful. There's a lot involved in owning and operating a haunted attraction, just like there is with any business. It comes with great sacrifices and it offers great rewards. Just be prepared to be patient and take it one step at a time. If you aren't a solid business person, I'd recommend you link up with someone who is. To be successful there needs to be a good balance of business savy, management skills, marketing ability, creative talent, technical skills and a whole lot of PASSION to keep the drive alive! I'm sure I've left several out. In conclusion, FINALLY, right!, I just want to say... You can do it! ; ) Keep us posted on your progress!

Kel

Front Yard Fright
05-14-2009, 11:51 AM
Looked into how much the property taxes on each building would be?
Mere square footage is the commonist determining factor but location, market value and location can also come into play, and of course selling price.
Once you over pay for a place the tax man says, "Well, it must be worth that much because you paid that much for it!"
Buy cheap and it's all ready half sold.(at a profit)

I didn't think about that. I'll definitely look into it! Thank you!


1. For each building, have there been or are there other haunted attractions in the area and how well did/do they do?

There are 2 well established haunts about 30 minutes away from me and there's a new one opening up this year in the same area. We have also been doing our yard haunt in this area for four years, and have created a great fan base! We get a lot of the same people every year, but our attendance doubles every year as well.


2. If there is no history of haunted attractions in a 50 to 100 mile radius, what other offerings are in the area that share a common target audience with you? (i.e. Family Ent. Center, bowling alley, skate park, movies, etc.) Check with them. Also, never forget about contacting the City Advertising and Promotion Commission (if there is one), the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, etc. to solicit their input)

We do have a bowling alley, skate park, and a movie theater all within about a mile radius of Big Blue. And I will be contacting the city this weekend about what they think. I have talked to some people from the city before and they all entertained the idea so I'm getting my hopes up!


3. I agree with the others, you may quickly out-grow 3,000 square feet. Of course it depends on the type of show you plan to provide. If you are planning a more theatrical show with guests spending more time in each room/set, you may be able to work with this.

Well last year my yard haunt was a total of about 1,000 sq feet. But after I figure the indoor queue line, actor space, bathrooms, and workspace, there wouldn't be much room left!


4. This is a big one! What are the building inspector and fire marshal requirements on each of the buildings? They should be the very first point of contact. You probably already are aware of this, but I just wanted to mention it. Being hit with a really big and unexpected expense to bring a building up to code can take a business down fast.

Ahh yes. I will be talking with the city about this and get in contact with the right person to make sure everything will be up to code.


Man, my mind is reeling! There are so many considerations. I would like to say this... Although now is a great time to buy and get a great deal, there's nothing like being able to test run an area under a lease/option so that if you determine the market in the location isn't able to sustain the business because there just isn't a large enough target audience or interest, you aren't stuck with a building you now have to sell under duress. If you can get a lease with an option to buy, with an aggreed upon purchase price and a portion of the lease being applied toward the down payment if you choose to buy, this is what I'd recommend. Of course if your research shows that there is a definite strong market in the area and you are confident that your attendance will at least sustain the business, then by all means negotiate a good purchase price! There are a lot of motivated sellers right now and your bank may hold the note on a property or two that you can get a great deal on!

We are having a meeting with the owner this weekend, hopefully we will get something like this worked out!


Last word of advice before I shut up. LOL Find out which bank in your area writes the highest volume of SBA loans and go to that bank to apply for an SBA loan! They are far more likely to get an "alternative / seasonal" business loan approved by SBA when they present with a package of many others. You will need to convince them that you've done your homework and your are presenting them with a viable business. If they are a community supportive bank, they will appreciate anything you can share with them as to how your business will benefit the area residents and businesses. If you are a for-profit, I'd recommend you include in your mission statement and business plan to make charitable contributions to organizations that are held in high regard in the area. It's good business sense and it's good karma too!

THANKS! Didn't think about that at all!


Best of luck with this! I hope my "sound bytes" are helpful. There's a lot involved in owning and operating a haunted attraction, just like there is with any business. It comes with great sacrifices and it offers great rewards. Just be prepared to be patient and take it one step at a time. If you aren't a solid business person, I'd recommend you link up with someone who is. To be successful there needs to be a good balance of business savy, management skills, marketing ability, creative talent, technical skills and a whole lot of PASSION to keep the drive alive! I'm sure I've left several out. In conclusion, FINALLY, right!, I just want to say... You can do it! ; ) Keep us posted on your progress!

Kel

Thanks so much Kel! I'll be sure to keep you all posted as I get things figured out!

Thanks again!
:).