Carlson Park Business Center wins 2017 NAIOP Award for top property for adaptive reuse!
December 2017: Carlson Park Business Center, 100 Carlson Road, Rochester, NY received award-of-excellence recognition from the Upstate New York Chapter of NAIOP (National Association of Industrial and Office Providers) The Commercial Real Estate Association.
Carlson Park Business Center (Carlson) is an 800,000 square foot industrial building on approximately 39 acres of land on the East side of Rochester, New York. The building was developed by Stromberg-Carlson beginning in the early 1920s. Alexander Graham Bell’s patent expired in the late 1890s and Stromberg-Carlson began to dominate the telephone, radio, and microphone manufacturing business in the United States. In Rochester, Kodak was probably the only company that was larger during its prime. The building is now home to ColorCentric, Solidiphy, Radio Social, Comedy At The Carlson, Savin Engineers, Carlson Cowork, and Companion Care.
Eventually, Stromberg-Carlson was split and sold. Through the years, Carlson has been home to many prominent Rochester businesses including Kodak, Hickey Freeman, Harris Interactive, Harris Corporation, Rochester General Hospital, and several others. During the recent recession, low interest rates and property values provided the opportunity for tenants to purchase properties and move out, leaving Carlson with a 650,000 square foot hole to fill.
Ownership and Landsman Real Estate Services, Inc. (Landsman) evaluated the market and the challenging building. It was designed for larger industrial users/tenants that really did not exist in Rochester any more. Prospective manufacturing tenants were deterred by low, 12’ high, saw-tooth ceilings and the property was competing with the push for large businesses to locate in downtown Rochester and the former Kodak Park.
Two advantages that Carlson had going for it were parking and location. There are approximately 2,000 parking spaces conveniently surrounding the property that served the many workers that were required for industrial use. That vast, empty parking lot also accentuated the size and magnitude of the challenge at hand – how to fill this “small city” and bring it back to life.
It did not take long to realize that large tenants did not exist – especially during a recession A couple of new prospects called looking for “a small space to lease.” With very little knowledge and not much of a plan – Coworking was born at Carlson a few cars started to fill the parking lot!
About the same time, Clover Lanes, a bowling destination in Rochester for generations, was sold for its prime location and the owner was looking for a new home. The owner brainstormed with Landsman about a concept to take advantage of the industrial atmosphere at Carlson, the retail advantages of the huge parking lot, and the concept of combining the social atmosphere of bowling, games, and a full-scale restaurant. The saw-tooth ceiling, restored large industrial windows, and iron trusses all added to the atmosphere that sets it apart from all other locations. It was no longer called a bowling alley – it was now “Radio Social.” The name tied together the history of Stromberg-Carlson’s radio manufacturing with a place to “socialize,” eat, and play games both indoors and out.
Carlson Cowork continued to grow. The number of cars in the parking lot increased and energy was coming back to Carlson. A small, former shipping office next to the docks (2,750 SF) soon became an Irish Dance Studio. Offices were filled by Companion Care – a company providing in-home health care. Next came Comedy at the Carlson… Savin Engineers, which will be overseeing the Rochester City School District’s renovations over the next ten years, now occupies 16,000 square feet of renovated offices. ColorCentric Corporation started a new progressive 3-D printing company, called “Solidiphy,” and expanded into 25,000 square feet while a lease was signed with a furniture manufacturer to occupy another 35,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
Today, Radio Social and Comedy at the Carlson are booming. Both have tied into the long history of Stromberg-Carlson. Comedy at the Carlson enhanced the industrial look of their space and has huge murals of the old industrial building on its walls. The partner will tell you stories of stars of the past, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, who would not perform unless the microphone they were using was made by Stromberg-Carlson (a testimony to the quality of their manufacturing). The huge parking area is filled to capacity weekend nights. Weekdays it is filled with children being dropped off for dance class, employees for the offices and manufacturing, or the 60 plus entrepreneurs that now call Carlson Cowork “home.”
Carlson has been transformed from being a single use building in the 1920s and then housing a couple of large tenants in the past to now housing numerous smaller tenants ranging from 2,750 square feet to about 200,000 square feet and providing more financial stability. Carlson Business Center has become the entertainment and business destination in the City of Rochester.