The pandemic era has been a problem-plagued age for many coworking platforms. Into that industry of late has come new and fine-tuned approaches to the coworking concept. Coworking companies that control their own spaces as opposed to leasing square footage, reach out to very distinctive niches in the entrepreneurial marketplace, and/or establish their coworking properties in vibrant and inspirational locales are finding ready tenants among start-ups, larger companies and sole proprietors.
These and other office seekers are all the more willing to try something new in the arena, given the upheavals that have taken place in office real estate sector over the last 19 months of Covid. The new coworking approaches have delivered a convenient option for – and new and different twist on — office, meeting and collaborative space.
One example is The Cordish Companies, which recently expanded its coworking company Spark. Its coworking spaces are deliberately situated in entertainment districts filled with appealing departures from the workaday world, whether dining and drinking spots, nightlife meccas or even Major League Baseball stadiums.
For instance, the most recently unveiled Spark is in St. Louis, within MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals’ Baseball Village, which encircles Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have a stake in the location, which is more than half committed.
Coming soon, also with a baseball connection, will be a Spark in Arlington, Texas (in partnership with MLB’s Texas Rangers).
It will join Spark KC in Kansas City, Mo. (in partnership with the Kansas City Royals), the latter already 100 percent filled. Spark KC was unveiled in the fall of 2020, inside Two Light Luxury Apartments within Kansas City’s Power & Light District.
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Spark originally launched in 2016, when Spark Baltimore was introduced. Located in the center of the city’s downtown district, Spark Baltimore now supports more than 150 companies and 500 members in a robust community setting.
The other notable difference between this and many other coworking companies is the fact Spark controls its own space. Because it does, the company argues it’s able to give tenants the tools to become bigger. And sometimes much bigger. One early tenant at Spark Baltimore started with single office in 2016, and over the next five years grew to employ 150 people and occupy one full floor of the property. Noted Shervonne Cherry, director of Spark Coworking, “Spark’s support of emerging small businesses goes beyond merely serving as a coworking space. We are dedicated to ensuring Baltimore entrepreneurs will survive and thrive despite unprecedented challenges.”
Family and business
A number of other coworking models are also catching the collective eye of America’s entrepreneurial class, each seeking to fill a distinct niche in the marketplace.
Among them is The Cube, Cowork, whose mission is to create a world in which both raising a family and running a business is the normal mode. The largest black women-owned coworking space in the U.S. that provides babysitting services, the Baltimore firm touts its ability to help women achieve a balance of family, business and career.
Another company seeking to fill a highly targeted niche in the market is Techartista. A diverse, St. Louis city-wide ecosystem comprised of creatives and nonprofits, it offers locations in strategically-located settings. For example, there’s a downtown location near The Arch, another called UCity in collaboration with Washington University and yet another in The Grove — based in a former church and available only to artists.
At a moment in time when some other coworking spaces are restructuring, changing hands or being forced to lunge for bailouts, newer platforms – many of them outside gateway cities — are growing and appear to offer their members greater potential for success.