Dec 5, 2022 | Tammy Davis | Business People Magazine
No one understands how the workplace is changing better than Bradley Company. A full-service commercial real estate provider serving Indiana and surrounding states, Bradley Company helps clients navigate a landscape that is being altered by changing attitudes toward physical space, a global pandemic and fluctuating economic conditions. And while these factors may have adversely affected other areas, the opposite has proven true in the local commercial real estate market.
“Commercial real estate in Fort Wayne has thrived through 2022,” says Bill Drinkall, managing director, brokerage northeast Indiana. “There is little to no vacancy in industrial, apartments or retail. Office is the only area with vacancy.”
Many companies are finding that in a post-pandemic environment, their existing office space no longer meets their needs. While remote working options may allow for downsizing square footage, what remains must also change.
“Offices aren’t going away, they’re just changing,” says Chad Phillips, president of growth and development. “Collaborative spaces are becoming more important; that’s what brings people to the office.”
With segments of the market already at capacity, the surplus in office space has allowed Bradley Company to do what it does best: think creatively to help clients fill their needs. For example, companies that need warehouse space have turned to former retail buildings like vacant Sears or Kmart stores to house fulfillment operations. Office space is being supplanted by other sectors, with some of that space even being converted to residential units.
“We’re always looking for creative solutions that offer the best fit for the market, the building owner and the tenant,” says Brad Toothaker, CEO. “We want the best economic result for everyone, so we’re looking at an adaptive reuse of space.”
Bradley Company offers a distinct advantage to its clients in that its people operate from within the communities they serve. They know the market, the properties and the needs from a front-line perspective.
“That’s what sets us apart from other shops,” explains Phillips. “We’re all about the local community, and we become passionate about those projects because we live in these communities. We pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial partners on the ground.”
Bradley Company team members work closely with clients as well as each other to ensure the best possible outcome. When all these factors come together — creative thinking, local immersion and partnership — success comes naturally.
“We put ourselves in their shoes,” says Drinkall. “We use our experiential expertise to work toward solutions that our clients may not think of. We work in teams at Bradley Company; this allows us to collaborate internally and come up with ideas to discuss with the client as we all work toward the right solution.”
While some people look at the real estate market as a match game, Bradley Company believes it is more akin to playing chess: making the right moves that reflect the best interest of the client, always moving forward. That means identifying spaces that address usage needs rather than simply finding square footage. It means emphasizing function over form, which can often lead to either creating space or adapting it. According to Toothaker, the market is shifting toward the richer concept of value creation over straight cost efficiency.
“We’re seeing a flight to quality,” he says. “People value their time differently now, and there’s been a paradigm shift toward flexibility and lifestyle. There’s a rightsizing that’s only just begun.”
Toothaker anticipates seeing more commercial projects that promote community. Office spaces are already becoming collaboration hubs, while retail space becomes integrated into residential areas. Mixed-use buildings that combine commercial and retail space with multiunit housing are becoming more prevalent, with several already complete and underway in downtown Fort Wayne.
Coming off a successful 2022, Bradley Company looks forward to continued growth. “We’ve only just begun to grow in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana,” says Phillips. “We grow as an enterprise by doing what’s best for our clients. People are making life-changing decisions, so our role can’t be transactional. It has to be a partnership.”
Bradley Company has been successfully supporting clients and their objectives through years of changing landscapes and continues to navigate these trends with forward-thinking industry insight.
“The world has been turning toward a very integrated solution as it applies to commercial real estate,” explains Toothaker. “Bradley Company has been helping our clients do that for decades.”