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November 8th, 2009

The Downtown Advantage: Creative Spaces



By Karen Fuller Inside Business

Brokaw is in the Warehouse District. When its lease was expiring in the Lakeside Building, the company looked at a number of locations, including University Circle and West 25th Street. Then a business on the first floor of its building moved out, and Brokaw saw an opportunity to expand and stay.

“We were one of the first tenants in the Warehouse District,” says Tim Brokaw, director of business and creative development. “We’ve seen and been a part of the transformation of this area. We are really glad we found a way to stay.”

The company wanted a ground-level retail presence, and the space opening up on the first floor gave it that, plus a little room to expand. “We were able to transform our space and make it new and fresh without incurring the costs of a big move,” Brokaw says.

Designing a new space also gave the company an opportunity to reflect big changes happening within: “This company was founded by my father. While I came to work here, my brother opened his own firm in Chicago,” explains Brokaw. “Recently, we’ve merged with his company and moved it to Cleveland. It’s an extremely exciting time.”

The new space reflects the company’s quirky nature. “We can use the first floor to capture our brand personality: open, inviting and a little off the wall,” says Brokaw. For instance, there is a huge “Free” painted on the lobby wall that mimics the famous Free Stamp. “We have a sense of humor with everything we do,” he says.

The first floor is a collaborative, light and bright space with a view of Lake Erie. The second floor houses the “cube farm,” with a combination of private offices and collaborative workspaces. There is an air hockey game on site for workers spending long hours in thought. “A sense of play is important,” Brokaw says. “Especially with creative thinking.”

Brokaw left the basic structure of the space intact, going for an updated warehouse feel. “The space was already gorgeous. We didn’t want to change that.” The company recycled old pieces of work for clients as décor for the lobby and left some workspace visible to passersby on the street. “We’re in a fishbowl here, so why hide it,” says Brokaw. “And people on the street seem to like seeing us stare back at them. It’s very interactive.”

“Cleveland is important to us. It’s part of our DNA,” Brokaw says. “We feel to make it here you have to be tough and resilient. And have a great sense of humor. It’s anything but boring, and we think our new space helps us express all that.”