NAI Ohio Equities' new digs are the subject of the July Office Space.

In 2018, NAI Ohio Equities decided it need to refresh the Brewery District office it had occupied at 605 S. Front St. for nearly two decades. The space had become outdated with high cubicles, enclosed offices and a tiny kitchen that didn’t have room for more than a few people. The decision was an easy one – the whole office would get a seven-figure overhaul—but, a big question persisted. Where would the commercial real estate brokerage’s 70 on-site employees work during the nine-month project?

As they say, timing is everything.

In a stroke of good luck, just as the final plans were being signed off on, hotelier Red Roof announced it was relocating to New Albany, a move that would open up the building’s entire first floor, allowing NAI’s workers to move their phones and computers one flight down and not across town.  

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A little more than a year later, those workers moved back into a larger and more modern office at their 605 S. Front St. home in the heart of the Brewery District. The 18,000-square-foot space— an increase of 3,000 square feet—is chock-full of all the amenities workers are drawn to these days—standing desks, collaborative workspaces, pods for different teams and communal areas for entertaining, including an outdoor patio. Design touches also reflect today’s office trends— there’s wide-plank wood flooring, track and canned lighting and areas that incorporate custom, natural wood. 

NAI wanted to offer guests an option to learn more about the firm while they wait for meetings, so it incorporated three main points into its new lobby—a coffee bar that includes a video about the firm above it, a timeline that gives an overall understanding of where the firm has been and where it’s going, and the team wall that showcases all employees, both on and off site. 

NAI worked with Tenby Construction, M&A Architects and Dupler Office on the project that took about a year to plan. Flat Black Commercial Visuals provided some of the artwork and A Carpenter’s Son Design Co. created the conference room table, side and lunch tables and a desk for President Mike Simpson. Grange Insurance owns the building and offered an undisclosed tenant improvement allowance for the renovation.  

The new office is configured differently than the old space that had some areas shut off from others. With a more open floor plan, more people are crossing more paths than they had in the past, which leads to more interaction and collaboration. A large conference room now opens up to a much larger kitchen with several seating areas, which opens up possibilities for a variety of events in the space.  

“Our space was designed to demonstrate to our clients the best possible working environment: natural light and lots of glass for our private offices, which are now smaller, but communal areas are larger, like the café and lounge,” Simpson says. “Our space has many different work environments so that people can get up and move throughout the day. 

“There is also a demand to utilize the latest technology from video conferencing and screen sharing to mesh Wi-Fi, all of which we have integrated,” he says. “Last but not least, the environmental graphics have been the biggest impact in giving everyone an identity and feeling a part of the brand.” 

NAI has 165 employees total and, because of the Covid-19 outbreak, they do their deals from home these days, with the exception of maintenance engineers and property managers who are part of “essential infrastructure” as defined by Gov. Mike DeWine. 

Laura Newpoff is a freelance writer.