GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids’ Studio Park is getting ready to welcome its largest tenant who is tackling another pandemic challenge: how do you safely open a workplace for hundreds of employees?
Construction is nearing a close on Acrisure’s new $30 million headquarters, located at the corner of Ottawa Avenue and Oakes Street SW. The new offices mark the first time the insurance broker’s West Michigan team will work under one roof.
“As a really quickly growing company, we wanted a marquee location in a very vibrant downtown that would help us attract talent as we grow, and we think this does that,” said Elliott Bundy, chief communications and marketing officer for Acrisure.
Work on the seven-story building started in earnest around the same time COVID-19 reached West Michigan. Pandemic prompted restrictions by the state temporarily stalled constructions at times, but Bundy says the project largely remained on schedule.
The pandemic also forced Acrisure’s team to find new ways to collaborate as they continued to work from home.
“It definitely was a realignment moment,” Bundy said.
He says Acrisure will likely welcome workers into the new space in phases, with the first employees moving in no sooner than Aug. 1.
“We of course want to do it as safely as possible. So we’re paying very close attention to the state guidelines related to COVID and related to easing restrictions as they come into effect,” Bundy said.
Just as technology has been crucial in keeping Acrisure’s workers connected while working from home, it’ll be key in keeping them safe in their new workplace.
“(We have) technology-driven scheduling that’s going to allow people to see what spaces are being occupied by how many people,” Bundy said.
INSIDE THE OFFICES
Acrisure’s new headquarters is a mix of traditional office space and collaborative areas that feature furniture from Steelcase, Herman Miller and Haworth. The building is bathed in natural light from its ample windows.
“As we know, winters can be long. And so if we’re inside, we want to try and bring in as much of that daylight as much of that vibrancy as possible,” Bundy explained.
With a growing emphasis on work-life balance in the United States, Acrisure’s biggest workplace appeal may be down the block.
“The movie theater, the facilities like the Arts Marketplace, the other restaurants that are also in the complex… that’s a really exciting opportunity to be neighbors with those businesses and have our colleagues be able to take advantage of those services,” Bundy said.
Bundy says Acrisure plans to tap into The Marketplace at Studio Park to make its new offices feel like a “second home.” Last week, Acrisure announced it had stepped up as a sponsor of the business incubator, which primarily supports women and minority-owned businesses.
BUILDING BUSINESS FOR STUDIO PARK
Acrisure’s new home will house about 500 employees with room for a few hundred more as the company grows.
“By in large, the overwhelming sense is excitement. As successful as we have been during the last year and a half of remote working, people at the same time are really excited to come back together,” Bundy said.
Studio Park’s founders are also excited to welcome hundreds of people who will be working steps away from the development’s restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.
“Obviously having 400 to 500 additional folks here in the daytime helps little businesses like Malamiah (Juice Bar and Eatery). We clearly hope that they’ll enjoy evening activities, yoga, Sunset Cinema and others in the piazza, and that they’ll be part of the community that makes this place start to become more vibrant,” said Emily Loeks, community affairs director for Studio C.
She says the past 14 months have been “extremely challenging” for Studio Park, which opened only a few months before pandemic shutdowns and restrictions started.
“We have had some parts of the ecosystem here thrive – Studio Park Lofts has been almost fully occupied – while other pieces have been really struggling. And so we’re definitely looking towards this summer with a lot of anticipation as things are moving on the right trajectory,” Loeks said.
Studio C is slowly rebuilding audiences since reopening its theaters with capacity restrictions in January. Ticket sales by the end of March totaled about 25% of a typical first quarter, according to Loeks. Studio C hopes to double that number by the end of the second quarter, with the help of new major Hollywood releases and the anticipated easing of gathering limits.
Studio Park also plans to reopen its Listening Room to touring performers this fall. The intimate events venue shifted earlier concerts outside.
Loeks expects a few pandemic pivots to stick around, including online sales of theater tickets and concessions. Outdoor events in the piazza are also here to stay. This summer, the green space will host another round of outdoor movies and concerts in addition to yoga and other events.
Studio Park is also gearing up for its first ArtPrize as a hub, and expects to soon announce the final two retailers filling out its space.
“Studio Park was designed to be a place of connection. Obviously there are so many amenities that are here, but it’s built to a really personal scale. And it supports a lot of local and Michigan entrepreneurs who care deeply about this city and are invested in this space. And we’re just excited to see it come to greater activation and see the community show up in greater numbers as we move through 2021,” Loeks said.
Thursday at 7 p.m.: For years, groups in Grand Rapids have talked about restoring the rapids. It’s a big, daunting project. We show you how the process to get the whitewater flowing is going.