GRAND RAPIDS — Axios Inc., a professional recruitment, placement and consulting firm, has returned its headquarters to the downtown area after a four-year stint in the suburbs. The company began operating out of its new offices in the Clark Place building in AmericanSeatingPark earlier this month.
The 100-year-old, four-story Clark Place, at 801 Broadway Ave. NW, is a commercial and residential complex situated in a Renaissance Zone. The designation waives nearly all state and local taxes for tenants of the building. The property also is a designated Brownfield Redevelopment Site, so businesses operating there are allowed to deduct 10 percent of the money they invest in improvements, furniture and equipment from the Michigan Single Business Tax.
Axios CEO Dan Barcheski started the company in 1988, and it has doubled its revenues nearly every year since. He said the company had outgrown its former headquarters at 4234 Cascade Road SE, which prompted the move. Axios employs 45 human resource people and will soon ramp up to 50. On top of that, the company employs nearly 3,000 people full time in various locations and another 2,000 to 3,000 people in part-time, temporary positions, as well.
"While the location was really ideal in some ways, our growth had just outstripped it. We were really running out of space," Barcheski said. "I have always liked downtown Grand Rapids as a location. We were also looking at getting the SBT (Single Business Tax) credit for moving into an SBT-free zone."
Pioneer Construction completely renovated the Clark Place building in 2002 to serve as corporate offices for American Seating Co., which occupies the entire first floor. Axios is leasing 6,500 square feet on the second floor, which also houses offices for ConAgra Foods, PPOM, Mills Benefit Group, Michigan Design Resources and Story-Telling Pictures.
Barcheski said the Cascade facility was about 5,000 square feet, but the space was chopped up and the building would have had to be gutted to open it up. He said he wasn't willing to put that kind of money into a leased building.
"Pioneer, on the other hand, was willing to do the build-out and incorporate that into our costs. When all was said and done, we were saving quite a bit of money by making the move. It made a lot of economic sense, and I think the environment my employees have moved into is a lot friendlier."
Each floor of Clark Place has about 45,000 square feet of space. The top floor houses 22 luxury apartments ranging in size from 1,500 to 3,800 square feet. Two of the units are available, said Beth Visser, property manager with T.E. Beckering Enterprises.
The third floor of the building is currently vacant and available for lease. Mike VerBeek of Pioneer Construction said that like all the commercial space in the building, the third-floor space is entirely build-to-suit.
One of the reasons the AmericanSeatingPark location clicked with Axios was because it has lots of parking for employees, Barcheski said. He had looked at a location in the MonroeCenter area but the cost of parking would have offset any savings Axios would gain through the SBT deduction.
He liked the ambiance of Clark Place, too. The building features massive window space, Frank Lloyd Wright-style concrete columns, open architecture and 14-foot ceilings. And in addition to ample free parking, AmericanSeatingPark features a courtyard with a 75-seat amphitheater and a fountain. Barcheski said Pioneer's renovation of Clark Place and its build-out of the Axios offices was "outstanding."
"So far, they have been extremely accommodating, and we've been very happy with the choice," he remarked. "I really, really enjoy what downtown has to offer. Personally, I just wish downtown was a little more small-business-friendly as far as the parking and some of the things you have to do as a small business person to move down there, but we're down here and we like it. It's been a good move for us."