Shopping for SpacePosted by Kevin on March 23 at 02:28 pm
Ann Arbor is an old college town. Most of the buildings downtown (including ours) were built in the mid to late 1800s. This means: narrow hallways, steep staircases, no elevators, and lots of character. The character part is what keeps us downtown. Most companies that do any significant amount of shipping and receiving have moved into one of the industrial zones that are 4 to 5 miles outside of the city. Downtown is full of galleries, jewelry stores, musicians, coffee and book shops, students, and any kind of food you want. The Lima team thrives on this energy, so we’d like to stay downtown if we can.
The problem is, we’re drastically in need of new office space. We love the Lima loft, but it causes us a lot of headache. First, when bead shipments arrive, they consist of 12″ x 12″ x 12″ boxes that weight anywhere between 60 and 80 lbs. Steve, Matt, and I carry these boxes up this steep flight of 22 stairs. New office requirement #1: a lift or elevator.
Secondly, we have a few issues with our restrooms. We have two of them and they are both very small – there’s barely room to turn around. Oh, and let’s not forget that we have no hot water! The old galvanized pipes are so corroded, that by the time water gets to us on the second floor, the pressure is next to nothing. We can get some cold water, but little or no hot. New office requirement #2: updated restrooms.
Finally, our space is divided into many rooms. If you have experience with older buildings (or homes), you know that large open spaces are not very common. Don’t get me wrong, Ali and I live in a house that was built in 1940 and I love the classic style, but when you have a bunch of steel shelving full of beads, walls can just get in the way. Our order packers can tell you, that when several of them are working at the same time, squeezing through doorways can really slow you down. New office requirement #3: an open stock room space.
As you might imagine, trying to find a space that meets these requirements in a 19th century downtown district has not been easy. The entire third floor (above us) is vacant and hasn’t been touched since the 1930s. It was originally used in the 1880s as a Masonic lodge. The owner of the building has suggested that we remodel that and and use it as additional Lima Beads space, but do we want to undertake such a huge project? He did offer to put an elevator or industrial lift in at the back of the building, which would satisfy new office requirement #1.
There is also an old brewery down the street from us that is now empty. It’s basically a big, open warehouse-type space, but in a downtown environment. It’s very cool, but would need heating and cooling, bathrooms, some office space built in, etc. Another huge project…
What kind of space do you work in? Does anyone work in a place that needs about 30% office and 70% open stock-room type space? If so, photos please!