Downtown Digs

The office is just steps away, but Larry and Marla Frank have found the perfect balance of work and play in their sunny urban condo

Larry and Marla Frank in the Frank Productions office. See more photos of the home in the slideshow below.

Larry and Marla Frank in the Frank Productions office. See more photos of the home in the slideshow below.

You’ve heard of people who work out of their homes; with the ease of email attachments and conference calls, that’s become commonplace. But what about people who work next to their homes? Not “next to” as in down the block—“next to” as in down the hall. 

That’s life for Larry and Marla Frank. Five years ago they moved from their home in the Hoyt Park neighborhood to a first-floor condo in the Union Transfer building on East Wilson Street, and two years after that, Frank Productions followed suit and took the office space next door.

With the obligations of running a large concert promotion company (Larry is CEO and Marla is CFO) just ten paces away, you would think feeling at home—in your own home—would become a little more difficult. But it hasn’t affected how the Franks live. At least not in a bad way. 

“I never go to the office just because I can,” Marla says.

And if something important were to come up after business hours, the couple welcomes the occasional knock on their door from co-workers. Open communication is encouraged at Frank Productions, and they see no reason why that can’t continue down the hall.

The decision to move the company to the Union Transfer building was more coincidence than anything, they say. The space next to their unit became available, Frank Productions needed a bigger office and that was it.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a regret,” Larry says.

The building itself has a storied past. Built in 1919 as the home of Union Transfer & Storage, it housed a diverse lineup of tenants, including a used-car company, a karate school and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, until Madison architect Kenton Peters converted the building into twenty-seven upscale condos in the late 1990s, overcoming efforts to designate the building as an historic landmark. Peters lives in the building to this day.

When the Franks decided to move to the downtown spot in 2008, they brought along the furniture, artwork and home décor from their previous three Madison homes to create their preferred aesthetic—craftsman and Prairie—in the modern-style condo.

All their furniture and artwork are pieces that they’ve collected over the years. “Every piece has a story behind it,” Marla says.

Now that they’ve brought the look of their past homes into this new place, they’ve focused on embracing downtown life. With Monona views, bike path access and restaurants like Osteria Papavero and Restaurant Muramoto within one block of their front door, it’s easy to see why they’re staying put.

“It’s definitely very different,” Larry says about their newfound urban lifestyle, “but we really like it.”

Grace Edquist is associate/web editor of Madison Magazine

Photos by Beth Skogen

Find more House of the Month features here.

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