Optimus to stay at Grand Ave., amid other changes

Speculation as to Optimus’ plans about when or if it would occupy the 38,000-sq. ft. space it had leased in the Wrigley Building, after announcing a November move-in date last year, came to an end by announcing it would remain in its 161 E. Grand Ave. building.

The decision not to expand and to restructure was announced by Optimus president Tom Duff, along with two other changes – the closing of its 15-year old Santa Monica branch and the appointment of a new managing director, Chicago Business Journal reported.

None of Santa Monica’s eight staffers was expected to transfer to Chicago.

The new executive producer/managing director of the Chicago operation is Brian Hrastar, who was promoted from executive producer. A 20 year Optimus veteran, he joined the company in 1996 upon graduating Indiana University. He was made a partner last year.

Brian HrastarOf Hrastar’s elevation, Duff said, “With our efforts and resources now focused on our Chicago office, it is the perfect time for our core management/partner team to take over day-to-day management responsibilities. We are lucky and proud to have Brian at the helm.”

Duff last April had announced that Optimus and One at Optimus would move into two customized floors in the 410 N. Michigan Ave. to accommodate the company’s continuing growth. November was supposed to be the move-in date that never happened. Nothing further forthcoming about the anticipated move — until now.

Optimus’ new containment stance underscores the impactful changes to the post business being felt by the city’s long-established postproduction community as agencies install their own in-house facilities to offer their clients lower-cost production/post services.

Optimus partners sold their 1930 original Lindsay Light building last year with the expectation that the new owners would demolish and replace it with a high-rise. The building’s fate was saved, however, by having been put on-track to receive official Chicago landmark status.

The building also has enjoyed a continuous a film industry history dating back to the 1950s when its main occupant was an equipment rental house. It was purchased in the ‘60s by a music recording company and sold to Smyth. The Optimus partners purchased it in 2005 and sold it last year.