For anyone remarking that they live at the office, “The We Company,” WeWork’s new moniker, may make that experience a lot better for you. Today, the global coworking company announced plans to develop within three main branches: WeWork (for coworking office spaces), WeLive (for residential real estate and apartments), and WeGrow (its education arm, which saw its first location—designed by WeWork chief architect Bjarke Ingels—open last year).
With WeWork’s coworking spaces now fairly ubiquitous in the U.S. and growing worldwide, the newfound push into the real-estate space could be could be an effort to translate the system that worked so well for them in office spaces to the real-estate market. The announcement comes on the heels of the reveal that an investment from SoftBank, initially expected to be around $16 billion, would in fact net out to $2 billion.
WeLive is currently active in two cities—New York and Washington, D.C.—with one apartment building in each. In New York, the apartment units available are in the same building as shared office spaces, making the morning commute just an elevator ride. With the new efforts to expand its real-estate presence, the company is targeting other cities around the country as well as international locations like India for soon-to-be WeLive outposts.
In New York, the apartments available at 110 Wall Street range from studios to four-bedrooms, with prices ranging from $3,050 to $7,600. The apartments offer traditional amenities include a comfortable bed, ample closet space, a workspace, a bathroom, and a kitchen—all with the warm, contemporary aesthetics associated with the company’s coworking offices. The units also offer amenities like yoga classes, wine tastings, and other events that may sound familiar to those who’ve worked in WeWork offices. Perhaps the biggest upside of the apartments, particularly to those familiar with the New York real-estate market, is the lack of a broker fee on units. While this could mean a relief to consumers, it also means certain segments of the real-estate industry, like developers and brokerages, would face previously nonexistent competition.
The venture into residential real estate could also see the payoff from the company’s efforts in the last year to amp up their hiring of top-tier designers and architects for its spaces. The company brought BIG’s Ingles on as chief architect and an adviser for design last spring, and has hired numerous professional designers to work in-house, sources say.
The company also has the unique ability to target would-be tenants with its own user data experiences. Because WeWork and now WeLive both design and manage their own spaces, they’re able to collect data on users’ experiences afterward, and cater new initiatives like upcoming WeLive spaces to those points, making them that much more effective.
All of this may well culminate in a holistic live/work/study environment: According to a report by The Real Deal released last year, the company is working on WeLive and WeGrow expanding to a point where WeWork would develop “campuses,” essentially neighborhoods managed by the company, that would include offices, residences, and a school. Talk about work-life balance.
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