Adaptive Reuse in the Warehouse District is Boosting Tech in Phoenix
While Phoenix is a relatively young city, there’s significant history in the warehouse district (among many other neighborhoods), and preservation is often a top concern when developing these spaces. Preservation isn’t all about the past though - more older buildings in a neighborhood has been shown to lead to more businesses per block and a higher employment rate, both critical to supporting a city that’s growing rapidly in both population and economic output.
The adaptive reuse of existing buildings not only supports those economic benefits of preservation, but is often a smart choice for developers. The city’s adaptive reuse program provides significant cost savings by streamlining the permitting and review process, and transforming existing buildings is about 15% less costly than demolition and a new build.
For tech companies like WebPT, the opportunities for fresh, creative spaces that maintain sensitivity to the neighborhood’s history while allowing for growth make Phoenix the perfect place to set up shop.
Throughout the United States, cities with the most industry diversity tend to have the most sustainable and resilient economies. Healthcare, hospitality, and construction have historically been the largest sectors in Phoenix, but tech has been making significant gains in the past few years.
Between 2012 and 2017, the number of tech companies and resulting jobs in the Central Phoenix core have increased 288% - from 67 to 260 and about 1,800 to 7,000, respectively. These innovative firms often seek workspaces with creative design and large, open floor plans that enhance collaboration.
Thanks to the city’s award-winning adaptive reuse program, the Warehouse District has become a tech hub, and locally-owned WebPT is in the newest space designed by Gould Evans and built by 180 degrees design + build.
Before moving into their new home, WebPT was housed in 29,000 square foot (SF) produce warehouse, working with a patchwork of do-it-yourself temporary walls, maxed-out electrical outlets, and desks crammed into every last bit of available space. When given the opportunity to move into what was once the Tortilla Factory, a conjoined 6,600 SF pre-fabricated warehouse building, it was a no-brainer. As one of the fastest growing tech companies in the city, WebPT was projecting significant employment gains. Keeping this in mind, 180 degrees and Gould Evans focused on renovating the space to accommodate a large and growing team. Despite the new building’s smaller footprint, expansion was possible thanks to innovative design and creative use of space.
The re-envisioned warehouse incorporates an expanded variety of collaborative areas including:
four open-framed “tents”
one 30-person space with a retractable glass wall
a large space for employee training, and
an acoustically-treated recording studio for producing client videos.
The variety of preferred work styles were also addressed with multiple working options:
open office workstations
private telephone booth sales offices, and
private and collaborative offices.
In addition to the inherent sustainability of adaptive reuse, WebPT minimized waste production by keeping their existing desks and addressing co-working sound pollution by investing in compact technology spines.
The end result is an adaptive-reuse design emblematic of the warehouse district’s pioneer roots and of a burgeoning start-up tech industry in Phoenix. No one knows the city like locals - the collaborative efforts between Gould Evans and 180 degrees design + build produced a polished, but gritty, space that remains true to the bootstrapped ingenuity fundamental to WebPT, a business that has been rooted and growing in the valley for over a decade.