An exciting new shared workspace is set to launch later this year in the landmark Boulevard Arcade building, 1033 South Blvd., in Oak Park. While similar, CrossFunction plans to offer greater charm and sense of community than other co-working office space companies, such as WeWork and Convene.
When looking for spaces out of which to launch CrossFunction, founder Trent Stoner found the perfect place in the beautiful Boulevard Arcade.
“What we were wanting to do was first find a place with a unique design and a rich history,” said Stoner.
Built in 1906, Boulevard Arcade is already almost perfectly laid out for a shared office space. With the addition of a second floor in 1922, it operated as a multi-tenant women’s shopping mall.
The building has its original exquisite tin ceilings and staircases and many of its rooms have the original hardwood floors and doors. Boulevard Arcade even has a spectacular working metal vault door. During the building’s days as a mall, the resident furrier would use the door to safely secure furs.
Boulevard Arcade received landmark status in 2008.
“There is no space like this in Oak Park,” said David King, president of Oak Park-based David King & Associates, the firm that brokered the lease.
“There’s also hardly anything like this in the shared office co-working space,” said Stoner. “Most of the places occupy an entire floor, sometimes two floors, of a high rise in downtown areas. You might have some smaller operations in the suburbs that maybe were a storefront, maybe a few thousand square feet.”
CrossFunction Stoner calls a “boutique shared office space,” not dissimilar to the trendy boutique hotel concept.
“Here we have 11,300 square feet, spread over two stories in a classic building with a very rich history, which is exactly what we were looking for,” he said.
History is important to Stoner who intends to preserve the building’s history and character. The next few months will be spent renovating.
“It’s Boulevard Arcade and it will remain that,” he said. “We’ll be CrossFunction at the Boulevard Arcade.”
CrossFunction at the Boulevard Arcade boasts designer ceiling sound baffles, 25 office spaces of various sizes, 17 parking spots, three work lounges, two conference rooms, a café and up to four small multi-use private “huddle” rooms, “where you could go take a phone call.”
“If you were a nursing mother, you could nurse. Maybe if you were really tired or had a bad headache, you could take a nap,” said Stoner.
The huddle rooms could also be used for conducting job interviews and private one-on-one conversations.
“It’s totally comfortable for two people to be in these small huddle rooms.”
The building will also have high speed internet, privacy lockers, a coffee bar and beer taps, as well as a business center with printing and copying.
“All spread out over two stories, it’s the entire building, which you’re not going to find in many office share, co-working establishments,” Stoner said. “We’re really excited to be able to share that with our members.”
CrossFunction will furnish the offices for tenants, but tenants may also bring in their own furniture, should they wish to personalize the space.
For those whose needs do not require the use of a private office, CrossFunction will offer memberships that allow people to work out of the lounges. Those renters will still have access to conference rooms.
Fees and rents have yet to be determined but the website, which will launch within the next few weeks, will have some preliminary pricing.
In addition to Boulevard Arcade’s historic appeal, the building is in close proximity to the Green Line and the Metra– a quality that was very important to Stoner.
“We didn’t want to be in the city, but we wanted to be completely connected to the city,” Stoner said.
Clients of tenants can hop on the train, making travel from Chicago to CrossFunction easy.
Stoner was also looking for an area that was a “robust, cool, bustling village or downtown area.”
“Here in Oak Park, the train stops right in the middle of this great downtown that’s going through its own economic boom,” he said.
Boulevard Arcade and Oak Park in general satisfied everything Stoner was looking for to start CrossFunction.
“There was truly a fit here,” said King. “CrossFunction will be a great addition to the greater downtown Oak Park area and community.”
Stoner and his wife had previously wanted to move to Oak Park but were unable to because it was too far away from where Stoner worked at the time.
“Now that we’re doing this, we’re just really excited to be here,” he said. “We love it. We love its access to the city, love the village and the town and all it has to offer.”