Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is open for business, although business is probably the wrong term to describe the goings-on that will take place at the swanky new Bainbridge Island branch.
“Third place” is the buzz word Realogics president Dean Jones uses.
“In real estate, the old model of housing the brokers was to grab some suburban office park, 10,000 square feet, everyone gets an office, everyone gets a parking stall, and you’re out of the hustle and bustle,” Jones explained. “It was not considered to be a retail experience.”
Realogics turns the model on its head, giving potential clients (community member, tourist) the chance to admire art curated by the Island Gallery, sip on Storyville Coffee (a nod to the building’s former owners) or snack on pizza from Realogics housemate Bruciato, all while scanning available properties.
“The benefit of our brand is it’s not just the island real estate we’re selling, it’s the whole world,” Jones added.
A flip through RESIDE, Sotheby’s luxury home catalogue, advertises a condo in Poland — finished with jasmine wallpaper and 24-carat gold and topaz tiles — and a $9.5 million ski retreat in Colorado. The picture book also has less spendy items, including a $325,000 townhome in Idaho.
Realogics’ digs, the Old Hardware Store, skews glam, with its see-through garage door opening to an elegant living room reception.
Jennifer Colley, a Tacoma interior designer who works mainly in upscale urban settings, has decked the entrance out with a chainmeal chandelier, a pair of leather armchairs and copper-topped tree trunk stools, which tie in the rustic roots of the place, also echoed in the exposed barrel ceiling.
Island architect Dana Webber worked diligently to preserve the industrial character of the building, with Jeremy Loerch of Alchemy Industrial Arts constructing a steel door system made of historical artifacts, like hinges salvaged from the World War II-era transmitter building at Battle Point Park.
There isn’t the typical stuffiness you’d expect in an office; even the rolly chairs in the one large conference room seem trendy with their delicate legs. The three smaller meeting rooms each have their own personality; they flank an epic white work table, with space for at least 20, which backs up to the kitchen.
At the in-house grand opening earlier this month, brokers from Seattle and beyond kept gasping. They were surprised by how beautiful the place was.
Bruciato, the neopolitan neighbor of Realogics, will open in the coming months.
When that happens, Jones wants to throw a big party, a public opening. He has a dare for chef-owner Brendan McGill: What if they pair up for special ‘Industry Nights’? “We’re going to have this be a window to a world of opportunity and actually bring in docents from other sea, sand, snow destinations,” Jones explained.
Easy enough if the theme is Italy. McGill’s got the pizza game covered.
The vision continues. Jones talks about hosting third parties for product launches, private events, or even the chamber of commerce for their meetings. (Inquiries can be directed to office manager Marilyn Turner.)
“I think that in order to get retail right, you need to be open and allow it to evolve and not have it be single purpose,” Jones said.
“Certainly, we could put in a residential real estate brokerage and there’s nothing wrong with that and it would serve its purpose. But I think the opportunity to expose the full potential of what Winslow can offer, not only for our brokers but also for our clients and third-party vendors, we just have to make the venue open for them.”