Arrival of WeWork later this year will expand Boulder coworking landscape

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Eyeflite co-owners Andrew Smerek, left, and Ian Philips at the Galvanize coworking space in Boulder Tuesday. Smerek said he scouted several coworking offices before choosing Galvanize for his company that is developing a software that allows those with severe movement disabilities to communicate via head movement, eye tracking or voice control. WeWork, a global provider of shared work spaces, recently announced it will open in Boulder in the third quarter. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The coworking space market in Boulder is getting hotter.

Recently, WeWork, a global provider of shared work spaces, announced its plan to make available about 500 desks at 2755 Canyon Blvd. in the third quarter.

As of December 2018, WeWork’s footprint was spread across 99 cities in 26 countries. It also included 400,000 members at 400 locations.

WeWork in an email spoke about its decision to come to Boulder. “We are very excited to open our first location here, and to become part of this community,” Nathan Lenahan, general manager Texas & Mountain West Region for WeWork, said in a written statement. “Boulder is known globally as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. From the University of Colorado, to startups, to major global companies, the mix of talent combined with an amazing lifestyle means Boulder is a place that people want to be.”

Boulder already has a high number of coworking spots on a per capita basis, said Jesse Day, owner of NiCHE Workspaces, a local boutique work space that opened on Pearl Street about two years ago. It’s a small space, about 3,200 square feet, he said.

His clients include a range of workers — those who mostly work from home but like to get over the isolation by coming to a coworking space; solopreneurs (a group of one to three people who have experienced some success and are looking to grow); and those who are serious, dedicated professionals, Day said.

Coworking helps sustain the entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes Boulder, he said. WeWork’s entry into Boulder will help “cultivate the market and make room for small guys like us,” Day said. “I’m for it. The more the merrier.”

Coworking is more cost efficient than leasing and furnishing an office, said Day, who next month will be adding a 5,500-square-footcoworking location in north Boulder. It offers flexibility to businesses in a growth mode, he said.

Cost to rent space at NiCHE ranges from $30 a day to $450 a month for dedicated desks, and from $700 to $3,000 a month for private dedicated office space of varying sizes, Day said. He requires a minimum commitment of three months for a dedicated spot and a 12-month commitment for private office space.

Andrew Smerek, co-founder of EyeFlite, leased two open seat spots at Galvanize Boulder in October 2017. Now his company leases one, and has a free seat for a year, courtesy of Galvanize after he won the Esprit Venture Challenge in November. The single space costs $375 a month, Smerek said.

His company is developing a software that allows those with severe movement disabilities to communicate via head movement, eye tracking or voice control in a hands-free virtual reality environment.

Smerek said he scouted several coworking offices in town, including NiCHE, before deciding on Galvanize. “It’s an open and collaborative environment. The biggest thing is their mentor community,” Smerek said.

Galvanize is definitely not the cheapest option, but it’s worth it, he said.

Day said he owns the properties he uses for coworking business, but many corporate entities, such as WeWork, hold long-term leases on properties that are then subleased to companies or individuals.

He said he thinks big providers of coworking space are more similar to providers of traditional office space.

The corporate model requires acquiring property leases and filling the space with tenants, he said, adding he’s OK with that.

Last year Bloomberg reported that WeWork offered huge commissions to brokers and big discounts to potential tenants to corner business.

A recent Washington Post report on WeWork details how friction between landlords and real estate brokers and WeWork could grow as WeWork takes aim at ambitions for growth.

WeWork didn’t return calls seeking comment about its leasing arrangements in Boulder, its partnerships with brokers, rental fees, and its assessment of existing competition in the city.

Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, pjoshi@dailycamera.com



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