Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

Century-old Caxton Building accommodates downtown millennials as a commercial incubator

By Holly Hammersmith    |    Photo by Jim Baron

On the outside, the Caxton Building is a visual representation of another era.

The building’s main entry was constructed in 1903 and features a large semi-circular terra cotta archway along with Romanesque details. After weathering decades downtown, the building was declared a Cleveland landmark in the 1970s.

But a passerby today may not realize what’s inside this eight-story, steel-framed building.

Architects, photographers, digital marketers, and videographers work here.

“What distinguishes the Caxton building is that it’s really a commercial incubator in that almost every tenant we have is an entrepreneur,” Katherine Bolton, co-owner of Property Operations LLC, the company that owns the building, says.

Many of those tenants are also millennials, she adds.

“I think the biggest advantage to being in the Caxton building is being part of the Caxton community,” Bolton says. “Many people are isolated within their own business. You can meet each other in the staircases, in the elevators. You sort of feel like you are not in it alone.”

Almost 400 people work in the building and a holiday party is held annually for tenants. Bolton describes herself as an entrepreneur and says she relates on a personal level with her tenants through her work.

“I enjoy the people aspect of it. I think that everybody is motivated by something,” Bolton says. “All entrepreneurs are motivated to be successful with their company. What motivates me is seeing the tenants and learning about their businesses and seeing how they are doing.”

Bolton says her husband, Bill, grew up in Mentor. He worked as a real estate investor in New York City prior to their move back to Cleveland in 1990. He started Property Operations, and bought the Caxton Building from an investment group the same year. At the time it was being used for semi-industrial business, Bolton says.

“We decided to modernize and transform into commercial office space, keeping the hardwood floors, high ceilings, large windows, and open stairwells of the original building,” Bolton says.

Today there are 55 office tenants, some of which have been in the building for two decades or more. Property Operations owns and manages two parking lots, an indoor garage, and an outside surface lot, dedicated to tenant parking except for special events. The building is also home to three restaurants: Thirsty Parrot, AJ Roccos, and Wilberts Food and Music; and is at 92 percent occupancy right now, Bolton says.

The building itself was named after William Caxton, an English printer. Caxton is known both for introducing the printing press to England and for his translation of the Holy Bible from Latin to English.

Prior to working alongside her husband, Bolton’s career was in the hotel industry.

“We (as a family) would talk about business over the dinner table,” she says. “We always knew what was going on. We would come down here and see what was happening or not happening. Certainly the change (in Cleveland) in the last few years has been dramatic, for the good.”

The couple has been working together for five years now. Property Operations has five employees: a building manager, two maintenance personnel, and two parking attendants. In her role today, Bolton oversees the daily management of the building from billing to collections, tenant relations, parking management, and more.

“Having been in the hotel business you get instant feedback,” Bolton says. “You know right away when someone is not happy.”

Bolton says she keeps that approach in mind with her tenants. During casual conversations if she learns of an issue, she is quick to address it and maintain customer satisfaction.

“It’s a multi-faceted job because you are doing leasing, you have the restaurants and then parking lots,” Bolton says.

In addition, Bolton networks daily. In a somewhat unique and unexpected turn, she served on a business impact committee in the months leading up to the Republican National Convention. This committee allowed her to meet and network with more than 500 other entrepreneurs, business people, and leaders downtown. “Now when we are working on projects, I know who to talk to. I met a lot of downtown small business owners and fellow real estate developers,” she says.

Property Operations has a contract with a local parking lot operator to offer parking for special events outside of business hours. During the RNC, Bolton says, the company rented its parking lot to the Secret Service for its use during the event.

While the occupancy at the Caxton Building may be at near full capacity, Bolton says they are looking at ways to modernize the space further.

“We are trying to change to accommodate the future. Millennials want big open spaces; they want a cloud room; they want a place where they can have a kitchen and hang out and have lunch,” Bolton says. “We are trying to accommodate and keep up with that.”

The entrepreneurs already like the “open stairwell feeling” the building provides, she says.

“I think the biggest challenge is also just staying relevant in Cleveland and making Cleveland a place where they want to live and work. You have to offer something they can’t get in the suburbs. Location is important,” Bolton says.

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