The shared workspace concept appears to be all the rage in the uppervalley as of late, and Dwayne Romero is ensuring that Snowmass holds its own as he gears up to open “Engage Coworking” on the mall at the end of the month.
With news in the past few weeks regarding two future communal offices in Aspen, Romero said, “All of these mountain communities are finally figuring it out — this new, innovative way to better utilize a limited resource.”
While the co-working model has gained momentum across cities nationally over the past few years, the Roaring Fork Valley has begun to embrace the trend more recently.
“The valley finally woke up,” Romero said. “We’re waking up.”
In addition to the Snowmass location, Romero also is opening two co-working spaces in Basalt using the same app software, which is called Proximity.
The platform operates about 275 offices throughout North America as well as a few in Australia and New Zealand, Romero said, noting the reciprocity “gives members that added benefit that’s no different than national brands like WeWork.”
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Romero, of the Romero Group that owns the majority of the Snowmass Mall, plans to open the first Basalt co-working space, inside the Midland Avenue building that the company owns and operates, sometime in March.
The second set of office spaces, which Romero intends to open in May, will be at Willits.
As for Snowmass, the more than 5,000-square-foot space will sit above the new Strafe Outerwear shop — a ski clothing company founded by two young locals — on the second level of the Snowmass Mall.
Romero believes added co-working spaces are long overdue for the valley and will fill a “tremendous” void for budding entrepreneurs and local residents as well as tourists seeking a “well-equipped” place to work.
The shared-office model is especially ideal for younger or cash-strapped professionals and start-ups, Romero said, noting the high cost, level of commitment and “overall burden” of signing a lease.
With the Proximity app, users are in business within minutes, Romero said, “without having to break into their savings account.”
Along with the convenience and financial benefit to renting a shared space versus leasing a traditional commercial office, Romero pointed to the advantages of being able to collaborate and network within a professional environment.
“There is additional energy and creativity that comes with putting people together in a room,” Romero said, especially with younger generations and “how they wish to engage.”
Engage Coworking will boast communal space that can seat about 36 people, features individuals desks, as well as eight “executive offices” and conference rooms, with audio-visual capabilities, that can be rented for an additional fee.
Other highlights include a full commercial kitchen, showers, lockers, a coffee and tea station — and of course, sitting a stone’s throw away from the 3,300-acre ski area.
The coworking space will offer a daily drop-in option, priced around $20 to $25, Romero said, as well as three tiers of membership per month, starting at less than $200 per month for the basic level, about $400 per month to rent a dedicated desk and $800 to $1,000 to lease a private office or conference room.
Because everything is app-based, Engage Coworking can be accessed 24/7.
An office manager also will be onsite during normal business hours to help as needed, Romero said. He expects to open about 3,500 square feet of the space at the end of the month, and the final 1,500 square feet in the near future.
Also down the pipeline, Romero plans to add programming and “other amenities” to the space, from “coffee talks” to “beer Fridays.”
Since purchasing 80,000 square feet of the Snowmass Mall in late June, Romero has worked to fill vacancies and generate more activity along the commercial area.
“We are really enthused about all of this,” Romero said. “This is another move, in Snowmass, under the heading of vitality.”