Coworking spaces gain momentum in downtown Spokane
Some managers say they have healthy occupancy, turnoverJanuary 31st, 2019
Offering various amenities for members, a handful of coworking spaces operate in the city’s core, and some say the trend is gaining traction here.
If there’s any obvious pattern between the shared work spaces in the area with Niche, Fellow Coworking, Level Up, Regus, and StartUp Spokane, it’s the focus on providing resources and events for tenants with a steady occupancy rate.
“Coworking is a trend that has been gaining momentum for the past several years. It’s something that’s fairly new in our region, but it’s something that has been a significant part of the work world in larger cities,” says Megan Hulsey, program manager with StartUp Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Inc.
With a daily drop-in fee of $10 and a monthly fee of $100, StartUp Spokane, located at 610 W. Second, doesn’t offer any dedicated office space, but provides open tables and events for community members. At StartUp’s shared working space, which was started in October 2014, the average tenure of renters ranges from 12 to 18 months and is comprised mostly of solo entrepreneurs, with about 25 percent having more than one employee, according to Hulsey.
She says there are a few tenants who have been with Startup since its beginning. It typically sits at about 75 percent capacity and could take at least 10 more coworkers, Hulsey says.
Niche, another coworking space, occupies the third floor in the over 100-year-old Saranac Building at 19 W. Main. The Saranac is part of the environmentally friendly Community Building campus owned by community activist Jim Sheehan.
At Niche, which opened in December 2017, drop-in rates start at $10 for a “hot desk,” a one-day rental for a 6-foot table.
Full-time 70-square-foot offices featuring an enclosed space with a door and a lock are available to rent, starting at $350 a month. The spaces come furnished with a table and a chair, but those with full-time offices bring in more decorations and electronics. Although laptops or computers aren’t provided, Niche provides Wi-Fi, printer access, and office supplies.
Nonprofits, health care providers, and entrepreneurs are among some of the business tenants, says Dana Oxford, bookkeeper and community manager at Niche. Niche is usually filled to an 80 percent capacity, and currently has four offices with locked doors available to rent, Oxford says. There are steady turnovers, but spots can fill up quickly, she says.
Space available to tenants at no extra charge include three conference rooms. The largest conference room, which has a 50-seat capacity, often is used for presentation by nonprofits. It’s common at Niche for nonprofits and companies with two or three people to rent out an office, Oxford says.
Oxford says she even occasionally leads yoga lessons in one of the conference rooms.
Tenants also have access to a kitchen and a small gym.
Those who have a six-month or longer lease can arrive after the usual closing hours of 5 p.m. to access rooms and utilities. About a dozen people usually occupy Niche at any given time, Oxford says.
Oxford recounts a moment when one group was struggling with their technological equipment and another renter offered to help. That kind of cooperation wouldn’t be available at a home office, Oxford contends.
Fellow Coworking, located at 304 W. Pacific, hosts a weekly mixed-bag lunch event in which it provides bread and coworker tenants bring all the fixings. It’s one way everyone can get to mingle and get acquainted, Dixon says.
“It’s networking in a really organic environment,” says Amanda Dixon, community manager at Fellow Coworking.
Free to the public, Business Brew, held in the morning with complimentary coffee at Fellow, brings in a guest speaker to share business advice and expertise the first Thursday of every month. It’s founded and hosted by Josh King, managing partner of Tinderbox Marketing, who has been a member with Fellow since spring 2015 and plans on staying at the coworking space for the foreseeable future.
Rates at Fellow Coworking are $18 for daily drop in, which includes access to any available desk and storage for the day, and a weekly rate of $65 for the same amenities.
For a permanent desk and locker, the monthly fee is $325 and all seating is open concept.
Dixon estimates that Fellow usually has 80 members on at a time and on a given day approximately 20 to 40 people occupying Fellow Coworking.
Regus, which has offices internationally, is tucked in the Wells Fargo Building at 601 W. First and has a starting rate of $8.50 and higher, depending on desired office space and duration of rental.
Although the majority of members are in their 30s and 40s, Hulsey says that the age range at Niche is in the early 20s to the late 70s.
“We’re not just a coworking facility,” Hulsey says. “We are a business incubator.”
On a typical day, about 15 tenants sift in and out of the facility and capacity can vary depending on time of year, according to Hulsey.
“Our goal isn’t to be the home for coworkers forever necessarily. As people grow in their businesses, our goal is to create a launch pad, a place where people can go and get their start,” Hulsey says.