After the emergence of new players in real estate and attracts many of the proponents, the “coworking” can it serve the goals of the State? Eager to revive the regions which were neglected, the government is going to subsidize the development of shared workspaces.
The executive will “put money significantly: (…) 60 million euros to the State” in a “public policy for the development of areas of coworking and +third places+”, said on Wednesday Julien Denormandie, State secretary of Territorial Cohesion, during the presentation of a report commissioned by the government.
In the strict sense, the coworking, which appeared in the 2000s in the United States, is a real estate market whose operators offer large work spaces, shared between many customers in the different activities.
In France, most of the players are concentrated on Paris and its inner suburbs. This is the case of the French branch of WeWork, a pioneer in american industry that is worth twenty billion dollars, eight years after his birth, or located nextdoor, carried by the builder Bouygues and the hotel AccorHotels.
The aims of the government are going against the reality of this urban market: it sees it as a tool to revive the activity of regions which were neglected, even as he has already promised five billion euros to revitalise the centres of 200 medium-sized cities and wants to cover the entire country in very high-speed digital by 2022.
This great gap passes through a redefinition. Paradox for a “mission coworking”, the report presented on Wednesday, wrote in its introduction that “the coworking is certainly not the right way to re-energize all of our territories”.
Directed by Patrick Levy-Waitz, president of a foundation dedicated to the new ways of working, the report chose a definition more loose, which allows him to deduct 1.800 spaces in France.
Called “third places” – because half way in between work and business, they include, for example, the “fab labs”: these places combines the use of machines such as milling machines or 3D printers.
– “Factories of the territories” –
“The term coworking, where I shall assume in full, it is +working with others+”, told the AFP Mr. Denormandie. “What unites all these different sites, is that today, there are more and more willingness to be independent and, as such, fear total to do all of this alone.”
Why, in the face of the natural emergence of these places, pass by the public power? Mr. Denormandie, who counts on € 50 million of private investment alongside the State grants, ensure not to enroll in a vision to a planner, then he wants to see the emergence of some 300 mill “territories”.
“In France, without a strong dynamic of the State, sometimes, it is difficult to engage certain topics,” said to the AFP Séverin Naudet, which has led to the establishment in France of WeWork and is today one of the leaders in the firm Amaris.
“There’s a land that is dormant immense public: the State has levers to say to certain public bodies to engage”, and cites as example, referring to not only local communities but also businesses such as the Post office.
Remains the place to give actors who have really developed in recent years the market: operators, such as WeWork or Spaces, and the sponsors. The report exhausts the subject, not seeing that part of the “tip of the iceberg”.
“It should also be of major operators, which lead investors (and) places that are profitable,” warns with the AFP Christophe Burckart, managing director for France of the multinational IWG, owner of Spaces.
“I’d like to open a restaurant tomorrow, I’m not sure I can do that… If you look at the reality, those who bring the structured investments and massive in order for these initiatives to be sustainable, (what are) of large operators, national or international”, he insists.
Sign that the market may naturally extend beyond the immediate vicinity of the capital, his group operates spaces in the Val-d’oise and out of the Île-de-France, Beauvais (60). Of course, the project went through a joint venture with a public institution, the Caisse des dépôts.
“We know that the market exists: it would have been (only) because there is a need,” concludes Mr. Burckart, while stressing that the presence of the Fund is “clearly a plus”.
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