Firmspace enters Houston coworking arena

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Firmspace, the Austin coworking company now in the final stages of building out its first Houston location, is going for a sophisticated atmosphere that’s more conducive to working than playing pingpong.

The family-owned coworking provider, which will get its name on three sides of the 22-story BBVA Compass Plaza in Uptown, aims to lease its brand of fully-furnished, glassed-in offices to oil and gas companies, law firms, financial services professionals and corporate executives working remotely. The offices, which take 32,000 square feet on the 10th and 11th floors of the 326,200-square-foot building at 2200 Post Oak Blvd., are accessible only after getting cleared after checking in at a reception desk.

“Our whole space is secured, much like a law firm,” said Houston native Matt Ferstler, Firmspace’s co-founder and chief executive. “We have somebody at the front desk that’s going to be able to provide you the service you need.”

Firmspace joins other coworking companies, including Spaces, CommonGrounds and Bond Collective expanding in Houston. Industry giant WeWork has a pair of locations in town.

As the latest entrant into the Houston coworking space, Firmspace is seeking to build on the appeal it has cultivated in its hometown, where it has lured national law firms and entrepreneurs in growing to 150 members since opening in late 2017. The Houston outpost will be its third location after Denver.

Monthly membership rates start at about $700 per desk climb to about $2,700, with a discount of 10 percent for 12-month commitments, Ferstler said. About 95 percent of the firm’s members are on 12-month plans.

Firmspace signed a 10-year-plus lease for previously unleased space at BBVA Compass Plaza, which opened in 2013. The company is targeting businesses that want flexibility in the size and duration of their lease with an all-inclusive price that doesn’t require long-term commitment or the expense of building out their own offices.

Guests and members can congregate in the common areas, including a lounge with free-flowing kombucha and cold brew on tap near the reception desk. The individual offices are designed with modular glass walls that are covered with film to nearly 6 feet high for privacy while still allowing in natural light. The offices, which will be outfitted with high-end furniture, including six-foot wide adjustable desks, can be configured to accommodate up to eight desks.

Multiple conference rooms and gathering areas are part of the plan, which was designed by the Page architecture firm. Materials such as felt walls add texture and visual interest while dampening noise.

“We do everything we possibly can so that two folks who are working for two different companies aren’t always hearing each other,” Ferstler said. “That’s something that makes us a little bit different.”

Firmspace, which likes to go into newer buildings on high floors with city views, is targeting Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, New York, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., for further expansion.

The company’s 35,000-square-foot Austin location has drawn customers from tenants in the same building needing extra space, among them Google and Brown Advisory.

To break even, Firmspace needs to lease about 60 percent of the space, Ferstler said. The Houston location, which could accommodate 160 members, will open in the first quarter.

katherine.feser@chron.com

twitter.com/kfeser



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