Coworking in Denver
By: Bill James, MAI, CCIM, president, James Real Estate Services
The Alliance Center, a “sustainable, collaborative office and meeting space environment” located in a renovated 1908 Denver warehouse building, houses about 20 tenant-partners, all of whom share a common goal of advancing sustainability.
The Denver area is home to a unique mix of nonprofit and for-profit shared workplaces and coworking centers. Both offer users a range of services and workspaces at a variety of monthly rates.
Nonprofits Lead the Way
The primary developer of nonprofit shared workspaces in central Denver has been the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), a Colorado nonprofit organization established in 2003 to acquire, develop and preserve community assets in urban areas, including schools, affordable housing and office space for nonprofit organizations. Shared workspaces sponsored by the conservancy include Common Roots, the Curtis Park Nonprofit Center and Tramway Nonprofit Center. All of these facilities are near Five Points, one of Denver’s oldest historic neighborhoods, on the northeast side of the Downtown CBD.
Denver Shared Spaces (DSS), a nationally recognized, public-private partnership that promotes best-practices in the creation and operation of shared space centers in Denver, was started in 2009 by the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, Piton Foundation and the Urban Land Conservancy. The organization promotes “the growing trend within the nonprofit community of applying a shared space model as a core operational strategy.” DSS connects nonprofit organizations with commercial real estate providers, helping nonprofit groups find shared office space and helping building owners to fill vacant space through its website at www.denversharedspaces.org with extensive directories of office space locations, meeting spaces, consultants and other resources.
At the Alliance Center, “a sustainable, collaborative office and meeting space environment” operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, about 20 tenant-partners (including both nonprofit organizations and businesses) have access to facilities and services that go well beyond those found in most single-tenant office settings. The center is located in a six-story, 38,000-square-foot structure originally built in 1908 as a warehouse, near Denver Union Station in Lower Downtown (LoDo). The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado converted the building to collaborative office and meeting space in 2004 and recently completed an extensive renovation. The center reopened in June 2014 as a showcase of green building features and technology that aims to increase innovation and improve productivity. It is certified LEED Gold for Existing Buildings and LEED Silver for Commercial Interiors.
The Alliance Center’s goal is to be the premier location for nonprofit groups and businesses that share the common goal of advancing sustainability. It offers fully furnished workspaces, 18 conference rooms, state-of-the-art event space, shared printing services, indoor bike storage, showers, a coffee and beer/wine bar and locked storage cages. It provides tenant-partners with ready access to investors, volunteers and public officials. The center also holds monthly brown bag lunches to help generate discussion about sustainability issues, as well as training sessions at which its staff helps tenants with activities such as grant writing.
Galvanize’s original Denver location, now home to more than 100 technology start-ups and small businesses, hosts numerous events and programs.
The new Alliance Center was designed by architects at Gensler, who had to address two issues. First, they had to figure out how to maximize opportunities for collaboration while also creating opportunities for privacy and quiet. They did this by including small conference rooms on each floor in which tenants may have private meetings or use telephones without bothering others. Second, they needed to design small floor plans in ways that balance tenants’ desire for collaboration with the ability for tenants to “brand” their individual offices or personal space. The design provides more open (community) space than is typically found in a multitenant office building and yet allows individuals and organizations to express their own identities with directories outside shared rooms.
For-Profit Coworking Centers Follow
One of the first and best known coworking spaces occupied by for-profit tenants in central Denver is Galvanize, which opened in late 2012 in the circa 1929 former Rocky Mountain Bank Note Building in the Golden Triangle neighborhood. Designed as an “innovation ecosystem” for technology entrepreneurs, the center features a full-service cafe, a common area with desks for individuals and start-up companies, and “G Suites” for companies made up of six to 30 people. It also offers full-time and part-time “gSchool” training programs and workshops for “the next generation of designers and developers,” as well as additional event programming. These activities generate revenue for the center, serve as unique amenities for tenants and help create an identity as the premier location for tech startups in metro Denver. See the box at right for other notable Denver coworking spaces.
Some Denver-Area Nonprofit Shared Workspaces
- Colorado Collaborative for Nonprofits, one of the first cohorts of the Denver Shared Space Project, offers open office space on the second floor and a first-floor training center.
- Common Roots, a collaborative shared space sponsored by the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and located in a 3,850-square-foot storefront, features a shared office manager, copier/printer, phone systems, kitchen, shower and conference rooms.
Creative Farm, with six locations in metro Denver, is a membership-based organization that “provides comfortable, clean, and inspiring work spaces for individuals and businesses in creative fields.”
Curtis Park Nonprofit Center is the shared space home to tenants that include the African American Leadership Institute, the administrative offices of the Family Start Montessori School and the Denver Shared Space Project Coordinator office.
Posner Center for International Development brings together more than 30 international development-oriented businesses and organizations in shared space located in a historic 25,000-square-foot warehouse known as “the Horse Barn.”
Tramway Nonprofit Center provides “affordable space, opportunities for collaboration, and benefits of shared services and purchasing to nonprofits.”
Some Denver-Area For-Profit Coworking Centers
- Battery 621, 621 Kalamath Street, offers members 24/7 access with parking, wireless Internet, a conference room and photo studio, 3,000 square feet of common space, a full kitchen with coffee and water, event space, monthly events and an “amazing working environment.”
Converge, 3327 Brighton Boulevard, is a “coworking community for creators” and “friendship innovator” in the River North (RiNo) Art District with four levels of membership offering different levels of access to facilities, support services and programming.
Creative Density, 1719 Emerson Street and 800 Grant Street, offers “flexible collaborative workspace(s) built on the belief that we are more creative and productive together than alone,” with four types of coworking plans and three types of offices geared to freelancers, remote workers and small teams of workers. It also offers a “Colorado Coworking Passport,” good for “unlimited coworking at Creative Density and 11 other coworking spaces in Boulder, Fort Collins, Durango, Loveland” and elsewhere in the state.
Galvanize, 1062 Delaware Street and 1644 Platte Street in Denver (the latter of which is currently under construction) and 1035 Pearl Street in Boulder, offers “seat,” “desk,” and “suite” memberships. Its original location is now home to more than 100 technology start-ups and small businesses.
Industry Denver, 3001 Brighton Boulevard (currently under construction), will contain more than 120,000 square feet of collaborative office space and amenities in repurposed industrial spaces designed as “the nexus of creativity and technology in downtown Denver.” The complex is over 60 percent preleased to tenants that include three restaurants. Uber, the San Francisco-based smartphone ridesharing service, is moving from 500 sq.ft. in Galvanize to 6,000 sq.ft. in Industry Denver.