The new year kicks off with a new coworking space. Tenants start moving in this week to the first of three Versa Coworking locations slated to open across Columbus in 2018.
Real estate developers and husband-and-wife team Kyle and April Katz are behind the renovation of the 37,000 square foot space at 1201 Dublin Rd. near Grandview. Responsible for projects like the Buggyworks Condos and recently completed The Deco, it’s their first foray into coworking and their second collaborative project.
When it comes their division of labor as a couple, “I find and I build it, she fills it she runs it,” Kyle says.
It was April that first developed an interest in coworking. With a background in multi-family, as well as membership-based businesses like Olympic Indoor Tennis, “I sort of saw this as a really interesting blend of the two,” April says.
Market factors made the timing right. The partners found not only a growing coworking industry in Columbus, but a cash-flow business ideal for setting them up for future investments once the market comes down. According to Kyle, the coworking lens is driving a lot of investment decisions. He’s looking at each property for its potential adaptive reuse to the shared workspaces.
The couple traveled and toured coworking spaces in major cities across the U.S. to learn about the industry.
“We’re building a business that really speaks to the next generation of worker,” Kyle says.
And that next generation wants options – which are abundant at Versa.
“We didn’t want a uniform space,” Kyle says. “People come to work and one thing we’re reacting to is the way people are changing the way that they work.”
One day that could mean heads down, no interruptions. Another that might mean getting comfortable in a more open environment.
“It’s important that we express personality here so that you’re not bored, visually or experientially,” Kyle continues.
Versa offers the classic trio of options. Open Work members can set up shop at open seats for $249/month. The same spot every day crowd can opt for a Dedicated Desk at $499/month. Fifty-seven private offices accommodating solopreneurs to small teams start at $799/month. For $99/month two additional options are available: a Community Membership to access meeting and event spaces and the shared bank of knowledge that will be a unique aspect of the space, or a Virtual Membership offering a business mailing address.
Additional space exists across Versa’s square footage that can accommodate everything from a professional business meeting to a yoga class. Walking in, a cafe offering complimentary beverages and snacks for members is lined with soft seating.
“This is really where we want people to be doing a lot of interacting,” April says.
Various size conference rooms are dispersed throughout the office. The largest can accommodate teams of 14 to 16, and another will be outfitted with couches and more relaxed seating.
A spacious conversation room will host events and outings for members and non-members alike.
“We do envision that there will be educational opportunities here,” April says.
Meetings, speaker workshops, lunch and learns – Versa wants to create a space where experts – that might even come from their memberships – can come in to discuss various topics that tenants can leverage in their own businesses. With a kitchenette and list of preferred caterers, it’s also an idea space for off-site meetings for other businesses.
The variety of physical scenarios doesn’t stop there. An outdoor deck is ideal for warmer months and the parking lot has been adjusted so that the lake that sits behind the building can become an added amenity. There’s storage on the ground floor, as well as two larger rooms that could be host to yoga classes to an entrepreneur that needs some production space.
Versa also includes two room-to-grow areas. A spot on the first floor could be branded out for a larger operation that wants to be housed in a shared environment. The owners envision an enterprise user for 4,000 square feet of space on the second floor.
The Katzs say they will be reactive to the market, but do see a growing segment of enterprise users opting to set up shop in coworking spaces. Versa is also obviously ideal for the local entrepreneur or small business owner.
“If you’re a small business in Columbus just starting out looking for between 300 and 2,000 square feet of space, it doesn’t exist,” Kyle says.
Versa can offer that space with a host of amenities and opportunities that make it more than just a place to work.
The couple says they are still facing a learning curve when it comes to getting businesses into coworking spaces. While the number of spaces has been growing exponentially, they still field many calls inquiring about the concept.
“There’s still a lot of education for the consumer,” Kyle says. “I think once that that happens…that people will understand that this is a better way for them to work.”
As the first tenants move into the Grandview area location, the plans are already taking shape for the next two locations – and beyond.
Up next is their Arena District office at 305 W. Nationwide Blvd., the former home of Columbus Business First. Work will begin February 1 with a slated spring or summer 2018 opening. Formalities are also lining up for the 5,000 square foot space that will be housed inside The Deco in Clintonville at 3450 Indianola Ave.
There’s no set start date for number three as the Katzs focus on delivering a top-notch experience at their first location. As they get to know their clientele, and get systems and practices in place, the next locations will fall into place.
It’s their ambition to not simply be successful, but, “Deliver something that could exist, and frankly, be successful in any other city across the country,” Kyle says.
For more information, visit versa.works.