Making Flex Space Work in Urban and Suburban Settings

Transient trend they are not – “flexible offices” now make up 1 percent of some markets, including New York City and Denver. Oh, and you’ve heard of WeWork – right? It’s now valued at $20 billion. Billion!

In “An Overview of the Flexible Office Industry,” two presenters at CRE.Converge 2017 discussed how they developed co-working spaces in urban and suburban settings. If you’re curious about co-working spaces, read on for the inside scoop.

Bill Bennett, founder of Level Office, has traveled to more than 20 countries to visit 1,000 co-working spaces, so he’s seen what works and what doesn’t. Level Office is an investment sponsor with co-working locations in 13 cities. People can rent desks on a monthly basis, and offices and suites are leased for a year. The biggest space Level Office rented was to a corporate client for 11,000 square feet.

“All of our offices are in urban settings and the buildings are less than 100 years old,” Bennett, who has a background in student housing, said. “An office is move-in ready for a new business within 15 minutes.”

For attendees interested in co-working spaces, he recommends starting out with a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot space.

Session speaker Mara Hauser, CEO and founder of 25N Coworking, is a suburbanite who wanted to create a place for people like her to go to work.

“I wanted this amazing office that was close to home, where everything was efficient and viable and I could get to my kid’s soccer game,” Hauser said.

First, she opened up a space in Geneva, Illinois, in a region with a population of about 80,000. She recently just opened up a new location in Arlington, Illinois.

“Since we’re out in the suburbs, we needed to make sure our spaces were better than a home office,” Hauser says. “We wanted to build a place where people felt comfortable bringing their clients in for a meeting and create a space where different generations could come work together.”

The new Arlington location is 16,000 square feet and people from more than 29 towns come to work there. The building is residential, but it used to be a hotel. It occupies the first floor.

“Our goal is to not only help people grow their own business, but also local businesses in the area,” Hauser said. “We go into a neighborhood where there might’ve been some vibrancy in the past, but we hope to make it even more exciting.”


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