MacRo LTD Blog

Co-Working: A Solution to Leasing Excess Commercial Office Spaces

Downtown Frederick Co-Working Arrangement Proves Win-Win for Landlord and Tenants

co-space-122011-1I follow a number of commercial real estate bloggers, but Duke Long does it better than most.  I took inspiration from a recent for the topic of this post:  co-working spaces.

Co-working is essentially a group of small independent businesses or entrepreneurs pooling their resources to lease commercial real estate that they otherwise could not afford.

A perfect example of a co-working arrangement right here in downtown Frederick is the co-op of creative businesses leasing space together at 147 West Patrick Street.  The group includes Want 2 Grow?, Mary Kate McKenna Photography, and Think Baseline.

Amy Benton, “Master Cultivator” at Want2Grow, shared with Macro Report how this arrangement came to be and how it has benefited the parties involved:

“We met MK [Mary Kate McKenna] through Twitter and hired her to shoot photos for one of our clients, Rocky Mackintosh actually! Jenn Gerlock and I knew with our resources it would make sense to co-op with other people to afford the office space we wanted for the new businesses we were launching.

MK didn’t need a whole space, and she knew a creative graphic designer who could come in with us as well, Megan Mullaney of Think Baseline.  And so the Garden at 147 came to fruition, so to speak.

There is no overlap in our businesses, but they are very complimentary.  There has been a lot of synergy and we have all seen our businesses grow as a direct result of sharing space with each other.  We provide resources and advice to each other, as well as referrals. We like to joke that we have every decade represented:  20s, 30s, and 40s.  I can advise them from a business-management standpoint, regarding things like account bill collections and project proposals.  They help me a lot with advice on design and photography for my clients.

This has worked out so well that Megan Mullaney has seen her business double in size and she recently took bigger space in the building next door, which is owned by the same gentleman who owns the building we had been sharing space in.  Jenn and I have expanded our office space as well.

Looking back it was a really good way for all of us to begin, and it certainly has been an incubator for our businesses.  If we bring someone else in, we’ve discussed that a programmer or coder seems the logical choice.”

With local office vacancy rates hovering around 16%, and the number of self-employed entrepreneurs starting businesses out of their homes rising steadily, co-working is a concept that the players in Frederick’s commercial real estate market should look at closely.

For that matter, so should local corporations, many of which are leasing unoccupied or “shadow” space as a result of downsizing.  This could be a great way to sublet some of that excess space.  (For more information about shadow space, read our post Have Office Vacancy Rates Peaked?)

How does a landlord or prospective tenant find a co-working arrangement?  In our next post, we talk to Amy’s landlord for advice to businesses and landlords alike on making this happen.

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Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He is an appointed member of the Frederick County Charter Board. He also writes

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