Photo: John Carl D’Annibale, Albany Times Union
Since opening just over a month ago, the Capital Region’s newest co-working space has seen between 80 and 100 visitors and will start charging membership fees next week.
“People have been coming in and checking out the space, and bringing their ideas and suggestions,” said CoLab manager Katie McKenna. “It’s been great.”
The 3,000-square-foot coworking and events space was opened by the owners of Stacks Espresso Bar and is located at 488 Broadway, next to Stacks’ shop in the Arcade Building. The colorful, airy spot is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
For those unfamiliar with coworking, it’s an arrangement where people who might otherwise work from an office, home, cafe or coffee shop rent space in a commercial venue. For freelancers, small business owners and people who work remotely, the spaces can be appealing because they usually incorporate the staples of a typical office — printers, wifi, desks, projectors — and offer flexible lease or membership agreements. Coworking settings can range from a handful of desks and cubicles in an open room, to a reserved private office, to a more high-tech venue with features like the 3D printer at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy.
More coworking and shared office spaces have opened in the Capital Region in recent years, including the Troy Innovation Garage in Troy, Urban Co-Works in Schenectady, Saratoga CoWorks in Saratoga Springs and The Beahive in Albany and Beacon. The Bull Moose Club, a co-working office catering to business, political and creative professionals with business in Albany, is opening this month, the Times Union reported in June.
A ribbon cutting ceremony at CoLab is planned for Aug. 13, and the business will start charging people to use the space Aug. 14. A day pass is $20 and a monthly membership, which comes with a tote, a travel mug and a few other items, is $200.
Based on people’s suggestions, McKenna has added standing desks, a sectional couch and other features at CoLab. There’s also a conference room, lap desks, more seating and power strips or outlets for charging cell phones and computers.
“Going forward, we’re hoping to expand the space with more seating or private areas,” McKenna said.
The bulk of visitors so far have been a mix of younger freelancers and people looking for meeting space, she said. The location next to Stacks is a benefit, but the idea of co-working is still fairly new to some people.
“The concept of co-working is still kind of hard to grasp, and if you’re coming from an office that’s provided it can be hard to see the value of it,” McKenna said.
In an interview with the Times Union in February, Jeff Goronkin, the CEO of Urban Co-Works, called coworking “the way of the future.” The biggest hurdle for coworking spaces locally is raising awareness about the available options, though that’s started to change, he added.
“More people are starting to understand what it is,” Goronkin said. “The biggest piece is still education.”
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