Building a better OnMilwaukee.com office
Seven months ago, OnMilwaukee.com needed to move, and move fast.
It wasn't entirely unexpected.
Having called the East Side our home for the past 14 years, we were already on the lookout for new space. We'd outgrown our old office on North Avenue in several ways, and with the building for sale, we hired our friend and corporate realtor, Steve Palec from Cresa, to find us something better. We just didn't know what that was.
"Inertia is a powerful thing," says Palec, who's negotiated deals for the commissioner of baseball, Kohl's and other clients much larger than the 15-person staff of OnMilwaukee.com. "A lot of people don't realize that a little bit of effort in exploring what's out there can open up a lot of different things you've never thought about."
Still, we didn't head too far outside our comfort zone at first, mostly because we didn't know what we were looking for.
"You're dissimilar to accounting firms and law firms, but you're similar to some of my favorite projects," recalls Palec. "What you were cognizant of was the 'live, work, play' concept. You couldn't be talked into the coolest place if you weren't comfortable with the building."
In fact, we were close on signing a lease at another East Side office last fall when our North Avenue building was sold. That space wasn't quite for OnMilwaukee.com, so we turned back to Palec with a new request: find us something right away.
Palec, who had himself just moved into CityCenter at 735 N. Water St., suggested we consider his new office building, too, "although I'm space-agnostic," he notes. Two days later, Sheldon Oppermann of Compass Properties gave us keys to temporary space on the second floor and began the process of winning us over to stay at the historic Downtown office building.
"When I saw it was you guys, well, I'd been hoping to do something with you for a long time," says Oppermann, who made the short-term move incredibly smooth. "When you get with people who get it, you want to keep them close."
Even though we weren't sold on the idea of moving Downtown, Oppermann quickly convinced us. The amenities – like delivered dry cleaning, groceries, bike parking and an amazing concierge service – didn't hurt, either.
Says Oppermann, "I suggested you come in and try it. If I could get you here, I can help you understand why it's cool to be here."
What was initially most intriguing to us was the building's location – at Water and Mason Streets – followed by CityCenter's work, life balance mantra. But when Palec and Oppermann showed us the raw space they had in mind for us at Suite 1120, we were sold.
But raw space is just that without the vision to turn it into a reality. As much as we originally expected to land in a warehouse space in the Third Ward, or stay on the East Side, the idea of an empty box was also appealing. We needed space built just for us.
It had to look professional and modern, but also open and collaborative and respectful of our unique company's culture. Oppermann had a plan for that, too.
He selected architect Mark Mattes to build us a space that would be airy and bright, with a north-south orientation so everyone has a view of both the City Hall skyline and the Third Ward. The editorial office is just a little separated, which allows for the quiet writers need, but it flows into where the programmers, designers, social media and sales team sit. My business partner, Jeff, and I have private offices, but with glass walls. And we have a small conference room, as well as an open lounge that spills into the kitchen, storage and IT closet.
While the square footage is bit smaller than our old office, it's so creatively designed that it feels open and spacious.
"It was already demoed out, which is what you were looking for. The suite really fits your brand. You can see all the way through from one side to the other. As transparent as the Internet Age is ... here you are," notes Oppermann.
Oppermann concedes that the design was incredibly important to us, so he brought in Heather Colligan-Clarke from Creative Business Interiors. "When we heard you wanted to be in something that was 'urban cool," we found someone who does that sort of stuff. They know how to do that."
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Congrats! This looks like the perfect floor/office concept for the growing team at OMC. I wonder what is in that fridge? Looking forward to seeing the space sometime soon.
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