The Collection: The Story Of A Once Vacant DTLA Building Turned Full-Blown Coworking Space

Restoring a 12-floor, early 20th-century commercial building in one of the most desirable places to work in downtown Los Angeles is no easy task. But that’s exactly what Chris Ortman did, along with his wife Carrie starting 5 years ago–turning a vacant, run-down office building into a state-of-the-art mixed-use space, with storefronts, restaurants and a flexible office/coworking hub on the 9th floor.

“The building sat 85% vacant since 1972,” said [Chris] Ortman. “I managed the building for ownership and ran a construction company that was able to build out each floor,” he said. While Chris oversaw the design and space plan for each floor, Carrie handled all the interior design work.

The building, at 527 West 7th Street, has been in the Ortman family since 1989. In 2002, Chris became more involved in the Los Angeles real estate and construction scene, calling it “LA’s second renaissance.”

“I started with restoring the lobby and the elevator,” Ortman explained, “showing prospective tenants up to my office so they were able to get the initial feel and look of the building,” he added. While the rest of the building is housed with traditional 5-year leases, Ortman took the opportunity to make the 9th floor something of his own. He took notice of the way the workforce was changing as new tenants desired an increase in flexibility, more collaboration and more community.

On the 9th floor, Ortman built 12 private offices which are rented on a month to month basis. There is also a cafe and lounge area serving up to twenty-six different speciality drinks. He’s allowing all the tenants of the building, not just the 9th floor, to enjoy this space for free which “creates a synergy,” he said.

“We’re really focusing on hospitality. We don’t want to nickle and dime our tenants as we want to give all of our members a first class experience,” Ortman added.

Since the build out of the 9th floor has been completed, The Collection has held a variety of events including hosting some of the most well-known tech companies in the area such as Airbnb and Booking.com. And, that’s without putting any dollars into marketing or promoting The Collection.

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“We just launched our first targeted marketing campaign,” Ortman said. “Our traditional tenants are growing out of their spaces, and we really want to give companies more flexibility. We have plans to open up another full floor [in the building] to build more private offices,” he added.

Asked what he sees for The Collection in the future months and years, it’s clear the Ortman family wants to continue providing more flexibility for their tenants so they are not locked into long-term contracts. “We’re renovating a second building that we own in downtown Los Angeles and we want to bring what we’re doing with The Collection to that space. It’s our long-term goal to continue providing these [coworking] outposts in other buildings,” Chris explained.

His passion for “designing and creating flexible workspaces to provide members with an upscale, sophisticated and professional alternative,”is formidable. We are rooting for the Ortman family to build upon their recent success and are excited for their impact on the greater Los Angeles coworking community.

For more information on The Collection and their offerings, be sure to check them out here.