Optimus’ traditional August Block Party this year could be the biggest of all in the previous 20 years, since it marks the company’s last such party in its present location.
President Tom Duff today announced that Optimus postproduction and One at Optimus production will move to two customized floors in the Wrigley Building at 410 N. Michigan Avenue this fall.
So there will be ample reason to celebrate the company’s new adventure ahead and to toast the memories of its past accomplishments on Grand Avenue.
To accommodate the company’s continuing growth, Duff says, Optimus will occupy 38,000-sq. ft. of open space on two floors, 11 and 12, in the historic Wrigley Building’s north tower. Connecting the two floors will be a newly-built, large spiral staircase, enabling easier collaboration among its creative teams.
The reason for the move, says Duff, was “to have a blank canvas on which to build a new Optimus from scratch. We asked ourselves, if we were to start over again, what would we do. We looked at a lot of places and the Wrigley Building, iconic, classy and ideally located – ideally answered our requirements.”
With its new space, Optimus will have the largest footprint among the city’s highest-volume post/production houses, Cutters, Optimus, The Whitehouse and The Mill, “and the coolest space,” Duff adds with a laugh.
The space was designed and is aggressively being built-out by interior architects Graham, Anderson, which have worked with other new Wrigley Building tenants. Floors 10 through 18 had been gutted over a little more than a year ago, so the remodeling is expected to be completed by the expected October or November move-in date.
The Wrigley building facility will be in stark contrast to the Optimus’ aging 50,000 sq. ft. building at Grand and St. Clair, “a sprawl over five stories with wasted space,” Duff notes.
The building has been sold, but the buyer and sale price were not disclosed.
The post/production house employs 77 in Chicago and 10 in Santa Monica.
Duff and original partners Glen Noren, Randy Palmer and Scott Yurks, have owned the Optimus company since July, 1996, when they purchased it from Anheuser-Busch, which a decade earlier had bought it from founder/editor Jimmy Smyth to expand its Creative Services activities.
The Optimus building has enjoyed a continuous a film industry history dating back to the 1950s. It was originally occupied by an equipment house, purchased by a music recording company and sold to Smyth in the 1960s. Duff and partners purchased it in 2005.