Work is underway to transform a historic building in The Switch innovation district into the new headquarters of the Biso Collective.
The project, located at 1301 First Avenue North, recently received approval from the Birmingham Design Review Committee. The property is located between Innovation Depot and the headquarters of Pack Health, which means it will add to the critical mass of entrepreneurial assets in the district, which was recently rebranded as The Switch.
As we’ve reported, Biso Collective is a venture between Birmingham entrepreneur Dave Gray and EBSCO Industries that will acquire and build software-as-a-service companies that will either be headquartered in Birmingham or willing to have a substantial presence in the Magic City. The building was originally built in 1926 as a central vault for Tennessee Coal Iron & Railroad Co. – a company that was pivotal to the early growth of Birmingham. EBSCO eventually purchased the building and has owned it for several years. The building has about 10,000 square feet of interior space, as well as nearly 1,000 square feet of covered outdoor space and a 800-square-foot outdoor courtyard. It also has onsite parking for more than 30 cars. Gray said the space was designed to hold about 50 people.
“It is being created with flexibility and collaboration in mind. It will be the headquarters of Biso, as well as a potential landing spot for acquired companies, even if only temporarily until they grow into their own space,” Gray said. “We also intend for this to be a gathering spot for events in our technology and entrepreneurial community.”
CCR Architecture & Interiors designed the space, while Murray Building Co. is the general contractor. Renovations are currently underway and are expected to be complete by June 2020.
Gray said one of the goals of Biso is to create a platform to grow high-quality jobs in Birmingham for the long term, and he said that’s one reason it was important to base the collective inside The Switch.
“We know there is value to strengthening our tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem when you have a certain density and concentration in a specific area so collaboration and idea sharing is more likely to happen naturally," he said. "Fortunately, EBSCO Industries already owned this building and was eager to see it developed into a higher use thus playing an active role in the continued emergence of this district." Gray said the company has worked with REV Birmingham as the project has progressed. As for Biso Collective, Gray said the company has engaged with several interesting entrepreneurs and its message is resonating. “Our goal is to buy healthy, sustainable B2B, software-as-a-service businesses that we intend to own permanently. We have the luxury of being patient to find the right teams and companies to partner with,” Gray said. “We remain confident we will find the right opportunities even in this highly competitive software M&A market.”
This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal.