The Anatomy of a Deal
In 2021, I had a gut feeling that IronVest was going to outgrow our current office space. At the time, our conference room doubled as an associate’s desk, we’d divided the breakroom to create more room for offices, and one unfortunate associate found themselves tucked away in a closet. Looking back, I admit a wiser leader would have acted sooner than I did. But it wasn’t until late in that year that I wholeheartedly set out on a quest to find a new home for IronVest.
The Journey to First Avenue North
For the next 11 months, I embarked on a rollercoaster ride of calls, tours, and offers for approximately two dozen different properties. Some were too large, some were overpriced, some required too much renovation, and some just didn’t have the right vibe. The journey was marked by numerous setbacks and frustrations, but my understanding of our team’s needs kept me resolute. The key takeaway from this experience is to ensure you allow plenty of time to find the perfect space for your business.
Then, in August 2022, I found myself having a casual chat over a few beers with Bart Crawford from the Title Group. I was telling him how hard it was to find the right office for our team. We needed something in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, on-site parking was a must, we wanted something distinctive and cool, and our hearts were set on staying in Birmingham’s City Center. Bart, to my surprise, nonchalantly suggested, “Why don’t you consider buying my Steiner Bank Building?” His words sent a shockwave through me, but I immediately went to work to see what we could bring to the table. The valuable lesson to take away from this is to never underestimate the power of networking and face-to-face meetings. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. Businesses are just people doing business with other people. No matter how you look at it, it always comes back to people. When we work together, that’s when the magic happens, and we create synergies that can outshine any predictions.
Within a week, I put forward an offer, and after a brief back-and-forth, Bart accepted. The Steiner Bank Building, located at 2101 1st Ave N, displays five levels. The Title Group occupied the first floor and mezzanine, while the second floor was vacant, and is now our new home. The third floor was set to become vacant as a tenant was relocating, but we already had a prospective tenant to fill the space. The fourth floor was in use by Porter White. The second floor had remained empty for nearly a decade, its condition was a 30-year-old dormant space. We embarked on a major renovation for the second floor, a milder one for the third, and made some updates to the common areas. The insight gained here is that your business can act as a catalyst to create a more dynamic investment opportunity than you might initially realize.
The Steiner Building
The Steiner Bank Building, a relic from 1890, stands as one of Birmingham’s oldest structures still in existence. In 1980, an adjacent “mirror” building was erected, effectively merging the two into one functional space. Our office has a character all its own, which we’ve wholeheartedly embraced. On one side, we have 130-year-old pine wood floors, while the other side showcases polished concrete. This project had some unique circumstances. We collaborated with industry leaders Tammy Cohen from Cohen, Carnaggio, and Reynolds Architects, along with Alex Pankey of Shelby Company for the construction. After seven months of hard work, we finally moved into our new space in July 2023. The lesson learned here is to partner with individuals who are knowledgeable in their field, and to remember that a challenging or costly canvas can often yield the most remarkable masterpiece.
Our new space has exceeded all our expectations. The morale of our current staff has skyrocketed, and our collaborative environment is nothing short of outstanding. Our improved workspace has been a game-changer for recruiting new team members. We are thrilled about the growth that lies ahead for IVP, and we invite you to visit us anytime to see our incredible space.
My ultimate takeaway from this experience is the importance of considering a qualified real estate agent when considering an office relocation or property development. The intricacies of such decisions and the potential pitfalls, both seen and hidden, make professional guidance invaluable. If we can help you at IronVest Partners, please give us a call. We can’t wait to connect with you and share in this exciting journey together.