Rocky and I bought 15 Broad Street at the height of the great recession. We closed on the building on February 25, 2010.
Nearly everyone said I was insane for doing this. There were only two people that thought it was a good idea: my wife and my banker. Everybody else told me not to do it.
I decided those two people were the people I should trust. I'm glad I did. 15 Broad Street has been an incredible part of my life.
Before us, most famously, 15 Broad Street was Green Cross Hospital. People regularly come in to tell me they were born here.
But it began its life in the clay industry.
In the 1890s, The Akron Sewer Pipe Company of Akron, Ohio, was the largest provider of glazed vitrified clay pipe for the United States. This company built our building at 15 Broad Street in 1913. It was most likely a small pattern shop.
Rocky compiled a really thorough history of the building. You can check it out here.
We bought the building for our marketing company, SageRock. When we bought the building we had about 25 employees. We felt that owning our own building would be better than renting. At the time we rented the Ice and Coal Warehouse from Mike Owen on 129 N. Summit Street. That was a super cool building too.
The recession drastically changed how businesses like ours operate. To deal with the wild swings of production a lot of our work became contract work. It's just more efficient to hire the exact person you need for the specific job. When the job ends then that contract ends.
Today, Rocky and I do pretty much all the work. We got tired of dealing with quality issues. It was more enjoyable and we were happier with the work we put out by doing it ourselves. Today we rent out much of the building on a month to month basis for other small companies.
The recession drastically changed a lot in my life.
I felt like there had to be something more than a system that only valued money. Money is a terrible ruler. It promises the world. But will always leave you empty inside.
So, I ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor. During the process I started talking to homeless people. That's when I found "it." I realized that living for your own personal gain is a meager life compared to living your life for others.
I still do marketing (now with a focus on people that inspire me like schools and nonprofits). But I continue to have a burning desire to leave this world a better place than when I arrived.
I have much more work to do to help empower and lift up the homeless of America. I also am finding an additional path of trying to inspire people as a whole to experience getting involved and giving back to their community.
I have found that 15 Broad Street is not what I need in my life. In many ways it is now slowing me down from moving on to help contribute to the world in new ways.
This building is an incredibly important landmark in the history of Akron. It represents a time when a group of homeless people came together to create a village where they were respected and valued. It also, importantly, represents a time when society told them they were not valued and not permitted to exist. It represents the best and worst of society.
I believe this will be the main anchor story of the history of 15 Broad Street. This is what it will be remembered for 100 years from now.
But it is not my path to preserve that. I have other work to do. I am not interested in posterity and sentimentality. I am interested in changing the world for the better.
So, I must move on.
We have listed the building at a price that is meant to sell quickly. I don't want to sit on this. I need to be free to do other things.
My hope is that the next phase of the building will be something of a celebration. A brew house. A theater. A music studio. A school. A nonprofit. Those would be wonderful things for 15 Broad Street to be.
But it certainly would also make a beautiful law office or marketing agency space.
You can learn more about the building and the asking price by clicking here.