Co-Working Spaces

Impact Hub on Monroe St, impacthubaustin.com

One of the many ways in which Austin has grown into a vital, cutting-edge city is that we’re now considered a leader in co-working spaces. An emerging phenomenon, co-working spaces bring together a wide variety of typically one- or two-person operations, all pursuing their own projects and ventures, to share working areas. If executed according to plan and design, they can create an environment in which like-minded individuals from different industries and occupations have the opportunity to connect with each other, both professionally and socially.

The typical co-working situation includes a sizeable, Wi-Fi enabled workspace, along with common areas such as a kitchen and conference rooms. Independently-operating businesses such as creative professionals, freelancers and business incubators rent a desk or area within the larger environment. This means a new business with limited capital doesn’t have to lease dedicated office space that it can’t even fill.

Co-working spaces are a growing trend because they offer a lower cost, collaborative environment that foments social interaction and hopefully also creates dynamic, diverse and productive situations. They also have potential to greatly alter the commercial real estate market, because they lease per head rather than per square foot. This may lead to more office building owners converting existing traditional office layouts into co-working spaces.

Another wrinkle on this idea is the development of dedicated live-work spaces such as Mueller Shop Houses and the new Camden Lamar Heights development on North Lamar Blvd. The idea of these spaces is to re-create the model from decades past, where the first floor is a business space, with the residential area above. The units are designed to give residents complete privacy and separation from the commercial space on the ground floor. For example, the 14 Mueller Shop Houses offer 500-600 square feet of commercial space, with more than 2,000 square feet of residential above. An owner can then lease the commercial space while living on the property.

As we move further into the new century, the traditional models of housing and working are evolving as demands and tastes change. Though it’s hard to tell how pervasive these new models will be, it is not hard to imagine that Austin will continue to be on the forefront of any new developments.

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