This Century-Old Brookfield Office Uses Pandemic To Convert to 21st Century Workspace

Lou Hirsh

March 9, 2022

Developer Completes $2 Million Renovation of 105-Year-Old Downtown San Diego Property

Sent home at the pandemic's start, Brookfield Properties staff left a century-old building in San Diego that had last been updated two decades ago. Now many of the roughly 100 returning employees are walking into a thoroughly 21st century workplace with an open floor plan and outfitted with the latest gear for remote meetings.

The neoclassical-style building at 733 Eighth Ave. in downtown's East Village, originally constructed in 1917 and serving for decades as home to the local headquarters of the Eagles fraternal organization, underwent a $2 million overhaul to accommodate more than 100 local employees of Brookfield, which has headquarters in New York and Toronto.

“Our updated home has been modernized to support the way our team works, through a mix of collaborative in-person and virtual methods,” said Ted Lohman, a San Diego-based vice president at Brookfield Properties, in a statement.

The move shows how returning to the office can involve a new experience for workers following the pandemic. In the past two years, some employers took the opportunity to make long-desired improvements, while others are trying to win over workers who have come to prefer their home office by adding amenities to the workspace.

For the San Diego office of Brookfield, which primarily oversees mixed-use developments in the region, the renovation included layout and design elements that often appear in the company's own projects. It included demolishing “inefficient, large offices and storage areas to create an open work environment,” with new conference and lounge areas to promote collaboration.

“Our employees started returning to the office on a flexible basis, following all local health department protocols, during summer of 2020," Lohman said in an email to CoStar News. "Today, we have nearly 100 teammates under one roof.”

The entire 18,000-square-foot space was overhauled, according to the company. Employees housed at the renovated offices include those from OliverMcMillan, a mixed-use developer acquired by Brookfield in 2018, and homebuilder Newland, acquired last year by the global firm.

The three-story building, designed by architects William Wheeler and John Siebert, was constructed in 1917 and expanded in 1934, serving as the local home of the Eagles organization through 1951. According to the National Register of Historic Places, it is “one of the very few such original fraternal halls still standing in this region of this era.”

Rohr Aircraft Corp. purchased the building in 1952 after the Eagles relocated. The aircraft company “modified the interior to accommodate several small office spaces,” according to National Register filings. The building sat unoccupied for several years before being acquired and renovated by OliverMcMillan in 1997, according to CoStar and public data.

Brookfield Properties oversees more than 800 properties spanning 375 million square feet globally on behalf of parent Brookfield Asset Management, among the world’s largest owners of commercial real estate. Among other San Diego projects, Brookfield heads one of five development teams competing to redevelop the area around the aging San Diego Sports Arena with apartments, retail and other mixed-use elements.

“Over the past few years, Brookfield Properties has strategically grown in San Diego and we will continue leveraging our global reach and expertise locally,” Lohman said.