Federation relocation survey yields no real surprises

Federation relocation survey yields no real surprises

The results are in, and there are no surprises. Following two nearly identical relocation-related surveys, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has gathered information regarding its upcoming move.

The first questionnaire was electronically distributed to Federation staff on Feb. 19. The second study was emailed on March 9 to approximately 200 “members of the Federation community,” including lay leaders, beneficiary agency executives and other users of the building, said Milo Averbach, the Federation’s chief financial officer.  

“We got a total of 109 lay leader and beneficiary executives’ responses,” said Adam Hertzman, Federation director of marketing.

“I looked at the results, and there are no real surprises,” said Averbach. The gist of each survey concerned “key things to help us decide on location.”

Included within each survey were choices asking respondents how close Federation’s new building should be to its current site on McKee Place in Oakland, how long of a commute respondents were willing to make and whether there should be free parking for staff and volunteers, said Averbach.

“This will help guide us,” said Hertzman. “It will provide a lot of guidance with what we are looking for.”

Wherever the Federation’s new home will be, respondents indicated that they would like the site to feature free parking for visitors and employees, a flexible multipurpose space, two fully functioning kosher kitchens (one for meat, the other for dairy), easy access to public transportation, be a green building and maximize natural light.

“My supposition to [the last request] is that it is a reaction to our current site, [where] all of our meeting rooms are interior lit,” Hertzman said.

Among the aforementioned requests, the desire for more collaborative workspaces caught Hertzman’s attention.

Respondents would like a design that provides informal collaborative meeting spaces, he said.

“There is recognition today that we have meetings in very small groups and our conference rooms are limited. If you’re meeting with three people it’s strange to have such a large space. We currently don’t have space that lends itself to creativity or creative thinking.”

From here, the surveys and interpreted results will go to the Federation’s building committee, said Hertzman. The committee will help identify “our most important priorities” along with balancing our employees’ needs.

For those interested in voicing their opinions about the Federation’s upcoming move, other opportunities remain, said Hertzman. “We welcome continuing input on what people like and don’t like about locations.”

Apart from the surveys, the Federation’s new location remains unclear.

“There are still a variety of areas: Oakland, the Strip District, South Side,” said Hertzman, who added that for the time being the most likely scenario is that the Federation will lease a space until making a final determination.

Hertzman noted that within the survey’s comments section a certain sentiment was shared.

“Within the open-end responses a number of people commented that we have some amazing Jewish community spaces, and it would be great to utilize existing underutilized spaces,” he said. “That’s not off the table. We’re still looking at the underutilized space for the long term.”

Adam Reinherz can be reached at adamr@thejewishchronicle.net.

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