In a soundproof room of a former warehouse in Buckhead’s booming Armor-Ottley business district, a man in a sensor-covered jumpsuit performs martial arts-style moves, pulling the invisible strings of a virtual reality character on a computer nearby.
His name is Sam Raiffeisen, and for him, it’s just another day at the office of Offbeat Media Group, a digital branding company. It’s one of more than a dozen eclectic businesses – from a solar panel installer to a vintage handbag dealer to a collectible card dealer – clustered together in the new Indie Studios at 190 Ottley Drive , an office complex for creative types. This atmosphere is part of the draw; the same goes for the location in the southeast corner of Buckhead along Armor and Ottley Drives, where the SweetWater Brewery across the street was one of the pioneers of reuse. warehouses in the early 2000s and where the buzz is fueled by the promise of the Atlanta BeltLine over the next decade.
“It’s cool to be at the center of all the media events in town,” says Alex Punch, Offbeat’s content director, while watching Raiffeisen gesticulate in the fantasy world they create.
Worldbuilding is also the concept of Indie Studios, which opened in January and started gathering most of its initial tenants in April.
“We are building a community within a community,” says Trevor Arrowood, the on-site manager of the resort. He means a “community of creators” within the Armor-Ottley neighborhood who can network and exchange ideas.
Indie Studios is the brainchild of David Minnix, CEO of CineMassive, an audiovisual company whose flagship product is multi-screen walls (one of which is included in Indie’s projection room). CineMassive is headquartered a few doors down, and an LLC involving Minnix also owns the adjacent kitchen space for the nonprofit Open Hand Atlanta, according to Arrowood. (Minnix did not respond to maintenance requests.) Like many Armor-Ottley buildings, these are examples of “adaptive reuse” – the refurbishment of historic buildings for different modern uses, a trend popularized in Atlanta by Ponce City Market but in progress locally for years.
For Indie Studios, a former 1950s railroad warehouse, Minnix brought in Atlanta-based developer Gene Kansas, known for saving the historic Atlanta Daily World Building on Auburn Avenue and similar creation-based adaptive reuse projects like Constellations, also in Soft Auburn.
In some ways, Indie is like any other office building, with long-term tenants and shared spaces such as a conference room, kitchen, and lobby for welcoming visitors or holding meetings. In this respect, the difference lies in Minnix’s selection of tenants suitable for this independent and creative niche.
Another difference is the more original shared facilities that make up what Arrowood calls a “boutique co-shared workspace”. The ‘inspirational library’ of books, magazines and vintage art, including a vase containing foam spheres that visitors are invited to squeeze like living stress balls. Trendy “phone booths” and “isolation rooms” for making private calls or getting some peace and quiet. Self-service bicycles and toilets with integrated showers installed in anticipation of the arrival of the BeltLine. Not to mention the margarita machine in the back.
Another feature is events for people and outside organizations. Companies like Mailchimp – the digital marketing giant founded by Buckhead resident Ben Chestnut – hold retreats and other staff meetings there. Unused suites have hosted “micro-weddings” and children’s birthdays. For the general public, the resort occasionally hosts “Indie After Dark” events; the latest was an artists’ “night market” on December 9 that included shows and food trucks.
Indie still has a few units available and is still working on some of the spaces, like a patio throughout the building that was once a series of loading docks, much like the private balconies of the larger studios. The Lil ‘Vic, a restaurant of Victory Brands, the company behind Victory Sandwich Bar in Decatur and Inman Park, is also coming up; the SOS Tiki bar by Decatur; and VCC Cafe and Lloyd’s Pizzeria on DeKalb Avenue. Lil ‘Vic will be running at the front of the building and on a gravel covered patio. Victory owner Ian Jones has yet to give details on the concept and timeline for Lil ‘Vic, but said “people can expect similar vibes and values to our other concepts.” .
The current mix of tenants ranges from serious to playful. There is an outpost of medical diagnostic company CND Life Sciences, which is working on a skin test for Parkinson’s disease. Across the room, Offbeat is working on projects such as a YouTube series called “World Record Week,” where the downed host allegedly attempted to set “records” such as 100 drive-thru in 24 hours or the use of a jack. o’lantern on his head for a day.
For tenants like Sports Card Investor, the card trading company, the Indie concept and community works well.
“We chose Indie Studios because of the unique blend of high quality, high-design common areas paired with private office suites,” said Geoff Wilson, Founder of Sports Card Investor. “The design of the building is perfectly in tune with the times and the common spaces are numerous and well structured. Our private office suite works well for our team and provides us with an ideal base for our content production studio.
“The Armor-Ottley area is growing in popularity with tech and creative companies and is convenient to access from many parts of the city,” Wilson added. “We liked the location, as well as the ambience of the area.
For more information, visit indiebecomesyou.com.
INDIE STUDIO TENANTS
The following is a list of Indie Studios tenants as of December 2021.
- Sonder (pop-up antique shop until December 31)