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Bo Hagerman is launching Boti Architects, after years working with BatesForum and its predecessors.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
Bo Hagerman is launching Boti Architects, after years working with BatesForum and its predecessors.

Former Bates partner starts new design firm

Posted online

After deliberately keeping a low professional profile for the past several months, longtime Springfield architect Bo Hagerman has re-emerged with a new venture.

Striking a 50/50 partnership with local developer Titus Williams, Hagerman formed architecture firm Boti Architects LLC. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

The firm launched Aug. 1 with nine staff members, said Hagerman, who serves as managing partner. They’re currently operating in a temporary office at 1414 E. Primrose St., Ste. 100, in shared space with Williams’ Prosperiti Partners LLC.

Hagerman previously worked at BatesForum LLC before leadership parted ways and he sold his stake earlier this year.

Within several months, Boti staff members plan to occupy a pair of offices – one downtown at 304 W. College St. and another at 302 W. Commercial St. – that will collectively undergo around $1.5 million in renovations. Hagerman owns the College Street building, which most recently housed Monk’s Social Club, and Williams owns the Commercial Street property, which incorporates three storefronts.

“I’m hopeful we can get into them by the end of the calendar year,” Hagerman said, noting construction crews are yet to be selected. “I think it’s realistic, but it may be aggressive.”

A new path
For Hagerman, considering crews for infill work at a new firm was not part of his career path at the beginning of the year. With more than 20 years of architecture experience, Hagerman started 2019 as vice president of BatesForum. BatesForum was created after a 2018 merger of Springfield-based architecture firm Bates & Associates Inc. and Forum Studio, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Clayco Inc., an architecture, construction, engineering and real estate firm founded by Bob Clark.

Former BatesForum President Steve Warlick told Springfield Business Journal in June he sold his 50% stake in the firm to Clayco several months prior. He cited a difference of opinion on the future of the industry among leadership.

It was a similar situation for Hagerman, who said he exited BatesForum in March, around the same time as Warlick. Hagerman said he had a 35% stake in the company, which Clayco bought.

The partners of BatesForum were all based in different cities – Warlick in St. Louis, Hagerman in Springfield and Clark in Chicago – and everyone was focused on their local communities, he said.

“So, they all have different agendas and different leads,” Hagerman said. “(Clayco) is a very Chicago-focused company and that’s where they’re happy. I’m much more focused on Springfield and the local market.”

He declined to disclose financial details of his sale of shares.

“It worked out for the best, to be honest,” he said.

Hagerman said he did not sign a noncompete agreement, enabling him to quickly start a new firm.

After Hagerman and Warlick left, BatesForum merged in June with another Clayco subsidiary, The Lamar Johnson Collaborative LLC, with the latter company’s name surviving, according to past SBJ reporting.

Prior to his leadership role at BatesForum, Hagerman worked for several years as principal architect at Bates & Associates, for which Warlick also served as president. Hagerman’s father Jerry was director of architecture for the firm. The father and son team joined Bates in 2011 via a merger of their firm, Hagerman New Urbanism LLC, which they started in 2004.

The next step
Hagerman said after the BatesForum departure, he wasn’t in a rush to make his next move. But he knew he wanted to stay in Springfield, where he’s worked since 2001.

“It didn’t really make sense to me to start with another company,” he said. “It’s not so much about me thinking that Springfield is underserved or anything like that, but I didn’t want to leave my hometown.”

During the summer, friends Hagerman and Williams began talking. The ongoing conversation led to Boti, a hybrid of their first names. Williams is a partner in the firm but not an employee, Hagerman said.

Williams, who also is principal at commercial real estate company NAI Enterprises LLC, said Hagerman is the firm’s leader and in charge of business decisions. The partnership is designed for Boti to collaborate on projects with Prosperiti, although Williams said his company would still be regularly working with other architecture firms.

“But, as I’m a partner with Bo on this, my projects will primarily be focused with him,” Williams said, adding many jobs would likely be outside the Springfield area.

“I see us having a very regional focus,” Hagerman said.

The partners cited higher rental rates per square foot in other markets, such as Kansas City and St. Louis.

Hagerman said the firm would target health care and mixed-use developments, mainly in housing and hospitality.

Williams said he’s long been impressed with Hagerman’s designs, singling out his past work with Mercy Heart Hospital and Hotel Vandivort projects.

“His ability to look at a space and how to make it functional but also marketable is a talent,” Williams said, noting the two currently are looking at multifamily, industrial and out-of-market housing projects.

Among the local ones is a yet-to-be-named 200-unit apartment community on Plainview Road, west of Campbell Avenue. However, he said that project is currently on hold due to zoning concerns from nearby residents.

Market moves
Aside from a developing list of projects, Boti employees will be looking to move out of some 2,000 square feet on Primrose Street, where Hagerman said they’re cramped and sharing workspace at folding tables.

Some of the staff worked with Hagerman at BatesForum, but he declined to identify how many.

Jim Stearman, principal artitect at Lamar Johnson Collaborative’s Springfield office, did not return messages seeking comment.

While it could still be several months before the move, Williams said he’s hoping to cut into the cost of the Commercial Street building renovation.

“It qualifies for historic tax credits, so we will be applying for those for that project,” he said.

Once renovations are complete, staff will occupy around 8,000 square feet on Commercial and another 3,000 on College.

“I expect our staff in Springfield to be significantly larger over the next 12 months,” he said, adding it will probably grow to about 20-30 people.

One of Boti’s office neighbors on College Street will be Paragon Architecture LLC, which is in the process of renovating the former Inland Printing Co. building. The 637 E. College St. structure will serve as Paragon’s new headquarters in early 2020. Brad Irwin, president and principal architect, said he’s glad to see Hagerman back. He said the design and construction industry is really healthy in the region, and he believes the marketplace can handle another firm.

“There’s definitely the opportunity for someone who has local ties to come here and make an impact,” Irwin said.

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