Campfire & Company
50,000 square feet
A new community of creative business now occupies a restored department store at 400 Granby Street as a “campus” for creators and technology innovators, co-designed with Campfire & Co.
The five-story office “campus” is called Assembly. It is “a space designed to connect ideas and the people who make them,” according to Drew Ungvarsky, CEO of GROW, a digital innovation agency and an anchor tenant. “As we considered GROW’s expansion, we thought to align to a broader purpose: strengthen our city, advance our industry and plant a flag for our community that no one can miss.”
Assembly actually occupies three historic buildings on Granby, the Ames & Brownley, c. 1919, which became Rice’s Department Store; Sears & Roebuck, and an adjacent warehouse. Since 1992, the buildings have accommodated multiple City departments, which were relocated.
Tenants in addition to GROW include Work Program Architects, designers of the project, Orbis, Affari Project, Have a Good Day, Lynch Mykins, Istoria, and RISE (Resilience Innovations). 757 Startup Studios, a regional headquarters for the entrepreneurial ecosystem is located on the ground floor, offering programming and training for high-growth startups funded by 757 Angels and 757 Accelerate.
The buildings were restored to their original beauty, with architectural details revealed, including a special room previously used to store furs. Inside, cubicles and walls were removed to open the space. The first floor serves as Assembly’s “living room,” with a reception area, residential furnishings, phone booths, a large reconfigurable meeting room, open desks, and tuck-away places for conversation. Anchoring the southeast corner of the first floor is Three Ships Coffee, owned by Brad and Amy Ewing and previously available only in the Virginia Beach ViBe District. The 2,000 s.f. space will activate the street and entice with its locally roasted coffee.
GROW occupies the second floor with a “front porch” with swings extending over the mezzanine. The third floor contains larger suites, accommodating 15 to 30 people, a library, the recording studio, and WPA’s 4,600 s.f. studio. The 5th floor penthouse is new construction, designed to support large gatherings, and its entire north façade opens up to an outdoor roof deck. All landings are furnished, generous spaces to encourage spontaneous “collisions,” among tenants as they travel up and down the iconic atrium stair.
Assembly is packed full of over 15,000 s.f. of shared amenities. A central atrium in space previously belonging to an historic elevator, links the floors and rooftop deck and penthouse, along with gathering spaces and casual work areas. Also included are an event space, a large conference room that can be scheduled by any of the users, a mother’s room, wellness space, recording studio, game room, bike share and bike storage. These shared spaces will create a great shared experience for Assembly “residents.”
Phase 2 of the project is the renovation of the Sears buildings, 53,000 SF, facing Freemason Street and Monticello Avenue. The intent is to offer world-class design to enable collaboration, shared resources and programming.
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