As the number of young professionals and entrepreneurs across the Valley has continued to increase, so has the market for alternatives to the traditional office.
Lauren Potter, Special for The Republic | azcentral.com | February 18,2016
Developers in the Valley are responding to this trend by creating shared, or co-working, spaces.
Unlike traditional offices, these spaces allow people who are self-employed, work for small companies or don’t have a dedicated office space to share equipment and collaborate under one roof.
People want to come downtown
The Department, on the sixth floor of 1 N. First St. in downtown Phoenix, is one of the Valley’s newest co-working spaces. A project by private investment firm Marketplace One, the space was created to house the growing number of small-business owners and startups the firm was investing in and working with.
“We saw a need, especially downtown,” said Kyle Frazey, operating manager of the collaborative workspace. “People were wanting to come downtown more, especially the younger Millennials, tech entrepreneurs and investors.”
The 16,000-square-foot space is visually striking and offers views of South Mountain from its sixth-floor windows. Custom contemporary furniture dots the bright open-plan design, which houses three shared conference rooms, private offices, shared and reserved workstations, as well as a central lounge and kitchen area.
According to Frazey, current members include artists, private-equity investors, consultants, digital agencies and non-profits. While their industries may be different, Frazey said members share something in common.
“They’re really people that want to help each other succeed,” Frazey said.
Frazey said the space was designed to be collaborative, adding that this type of space has a certain energy and encourages relationship-building among those co-working there.
Three levels of membership are available (flex, reserve and team) starting at $200 per month. There are no hourly or daily pricing options. However, there is another co-working space in Phoenix that targets this niche market.
Co-working — with an emphasis on hospitality
A joint project between Valley developers Ironline Partners and Novawest, Mod is a meeting and workspace option for on-the-go and mobile workers. It offers a stylish lounge feel and, unlike other shared workspaces, places a strong focus on hospitality.
Located at 2828 N. Central Ave. in midtown Phoenix, Mod caters to traveling and mobile professionals. It offers amenities a traveling worker expects: Wi-Fi, printers and copiers, private and public workspaces, meeting rooms, notary services, a coffee shop, healthy cafe and bar.
There also are unexpected perks.
“If we notice one of our clients hasn’t taken a break in a really long time, (we) might surprise them with a hot towel or refreshment,” said Jamie Shaw, brand experience director at Mod. “We want you to feel pampered.”
According to Shaw, if clients need to ship a package or borrow a phone charger, the on-site “Modcierge” can help.
Phoenix is Mod’s first location, and the company is opening a space in San Francisco’s Mission District this year. A third location is planned for Seattle in 2017. Company officials say they are exploring a second Valley location, possibly in Tempe.
Work and home
Residential developers also are responding to the need for alternative workspaces.
A Chile-based commercial developer, Sencorp, has targeted this mobile-workforce market with their first U.S. project, en Hance Park located at 1130 N. Second St. in downtown Phoenix, with prices from $150,000.
Eight of the 49 units are zoned as live-work spaces with a ground-level entrance to the home office area. Alvaro said the units are best suited to “low-traffic” home-based businesses such as design, insurance or real estate. The units cater to a small and underserved part of the market, Sencorp Chief Operating Officer Alvaro Sande said.
“It’s not all the market,” he said. “It’s a niche.”
In Scottsdale, developers are targeting the live-work niche, but with a focus on luxury.
SoHo live-work townhouses and condominiums, under construction near WestWorld of Scottsdale at Bell Road, range from $651,300 to more than $1 million. Starting at 3,939 square feet, the residences give buyers the opportunity to operate a retail business on the ground-floor space.
A great workspace attracts and keeps talent
Whether working from home or in a shared or traditional office space, the design and energy of modern workspaces is increasingly important.
According to Colliers International Director of Workplace Innovation Keith Perske, the environment in which people work makes a difference to employees and business owners alike.
“If you can change the workplace, you can (positively) affect a lot of people’s lives,” Perske said.
“Companies that really get it understand the way a workplace functions as a way to attract and retain talent,” he said.