Question: I’m an asset owner - what flexible space options should I consider for my building?
We were at the NAIOP Conference (Commercial Real Estate Development Organization) in LA last week exploring the topic of flexible space options throughout the day and on a coworking-specific panel. If you are a developer/asset owner/asset manager looking to make your commercial office building marketable to today's space user, here are some considerations:
Breather CEO Julien Smith kept coming back to the theme of humans spilling over...into hallways, lobbies and coffee shops when they run out of space in their own facilities or need a different type of space...or dare I say...just space to breathe… Julien’s company solves a problem for the space user by providing beautifully-designed spaces that are just the right size for a...client meeting, off-site strategy session, creative meeting. For the space manager/owner, Breather transforms typically unused nooks and crannies in a building into revenue-generating space. Their boldest example - a 100 square foot former broom closet. It had a window - they saw the potential.
Liquidspace “altSpace” - Liquidspace is most well-known for connecting users to meeting space by the hour. Their model has evolved to match flexible space users with flexible space providers of varying sizes - from coworking spaces to large teams (think 40-50 people) for longer durations - generally by the month leveraging a “Dash” license agreement that can get a transaction done in hours vs. months. Their most recent innovation is under the brand “altSpace” - which combines historically tough to lease space in an otherwise vibrant building with a kit of parts and a matchmaking platform to connect shorter-term teams with a well-designed plug and play workspace.
If you have anywhere from 100 square feet to 2,000 square feet spaces in your building, consider loading them into these two platforms to create flex spaces for your tenants or to bring in short-term users that may just enter your pipeline for longer-term, larger space.
Coworking as a Tenant Amenity - The term “vibrant” was almost over-used during our discussion of flexible/shared space. The idea that bringing people together creates energy is not new, but strategically activating historically low-function lobbies in commercial office buildings is the future. As Greg Fuller of Granite Properties pointed out - it’s not just urban dwellers that want energy, good design and community in their place of work - suburbanites want the same things! His project, Factory Six03 - 215,000 square feet, boasts “Community Lounge” with Wi-Fi and coffee service in building lobby. The YouTube descriptor for the project asserts: The West End is back and it's not your mother's office space."
- New outdoor plaza with patio seating
- Ground floor restaurants and retail
- “The Stack” — an 8th floor addition consisting of 5,500 SF of Tenant lounge and conference space with rooftop patios and views of Uptown and Downtown
Greg is training his Property Managers to be “Community Managers” - providing meaningful programming to the building tenants.
Coworking - Open to the Public - Operating a shared workspace open to the public is another way to bring variety, vibrancy and traffic to a building that can add to the appeal, energy and future tenant pipeline for the building. If you open the space to the public, you are probably not also offering it for tenant use so you may want to mix and match it with options above depending on your objectives. This should be a profitable stand-alone effort in addition to the ancillary benefits mentioned above. Beware - coworking today is not just open plan “hot desks.” There are sophisticated layers of design and size options. Wondering what the model looks like for a coworking space, how to find the right operator to run it or whether or not you should try it yourself? Stay tuned or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.