Jamestown Lures Reebok By Innovating Through Tenant Curation
Reebok's suburban headquarters checked all the amenity boxes to be the ideal creative space. But moving to the Seaport showed Reebok what it had been missing: a deeper meaning provided by a well-curated tenant mix.
Its Canton headquarters was everything Reebok thought was necessary: 460k SF on 60 acres at the base of the Blue Hills, a 400-meter track and a fitness center. However, the company’s tag line, “Be more human,” was not being practiced on its highway-adjacent space. Reebok’s leader noted that technology brings people closer than ever but without meaningful connection.
“We began a mission of trying to create a broader community than the more cloistered approach we had,” Reebok president Matt O’Toole shared during an Innovation and Design Building panel at Bisnow’s State of the Seaport event Thursday.
O’Toole wanted his company to challenge itself and look eye-to-eye with other creators and innovators rather than isolate ideas in Canton. Lucky for Reebok, Jamestown was creating just the community in South Boston.
Jamestown has a history of buying underdeveloped spaces and reinventing them as innovation hubs. The company has bought 10M SF in four cities for adaptive reuse, including the 1.3M SF Innovation and Design Building. While Jamestown president Michael Phillips said there was not a master plan when the company acquired this 1920s warehouse, he wanted to build for a future trend.
“The innovation that’s coming and the innovation that we’re living in is a time not of fortresses and global headquarters identified individually,” Phillips said, “but through collaborative space and through inviting other perspectives in.”
Reebok is running with the idea. It is breaking the captive in-office food trend by putting its IDB cafeteria on the ground floor to interact with the rest of the campus and make lunchtime a collective experience. The highly innovative IDB tenants Reebok employees will encounter are not there by chance. Jamestown’s culture operates with the goal of attracting and selecting the brightest workforce and becoming a partner rather than just a landlord. While the IDB may not be the most central or efficient building in town, Phillips said it is home to the most interesting group of people curated by his team.
“We turned down big tenants because they aren’t going to be additive to our culture but additive to our bank accounts,” he said. “If we’re going to do this, you need to curate your space.”
Jamestown even has fun with curating. The company put a bar in the basement of its Chelsea Market property in Manhattan with mingling on its mind. It then invited Google employees and models from Milk Studios upstairs for a tenant mixer.
“Googlers need dates like anyone else,” he joked.