With its first location gathering momentum, a new shared office space brand wants to expand in Richmond.
Downtown co-working space Gather is looking for a second location to add to its 10,000-square-foot Main Street office. Duke Dodson, head of Dodson Property Management and Gather co-owner, said the company wants a space between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet and has narrowed a site search to the Fan, Scott’s Addition and Short Pump.
“We’ve had numerous meetings about it, hours of discussion, and it really comes down to what our current members want,” Dodson said. “Gather has an urban feel to it, so that’s why we may not go to Short Pump, but our members seem to want a different location out there.”
Gather is co-owned by Dodson of Dodson Property Management, Andy Beach and Jeff Bunch of Urban Core Development, and Doug and Polly White of Whitestone Partners. The company launched its first co-working space at 409 E. Main St. in April in a building that also houses main offices for Dodson Property Management and Urban Core.
For a flat fee of about $250 per month, Gather members buy access to a workspace with several shared business essentials: small conference rooms, a large open workspace, the printer, scanner, copier, coffee bar, workout room and basement kegerator.
Gather also rents out solo, semi-private desks at about $350 per month and small, glassed-off offices for around $500 per month. With two Gather locations, Dodson said members could rent out an office space at one location, but access the common co-working space at either.
Dodson said co-working is an office setup that appeals to independent contractors and one-man-shop businesses. Gather has planned to expand to multiple locations from the start, and is up to about 52 members at its Main Street location.
Some of the space’s earliest tenants included the Harvey Law Office, marketing firm Zywaye and documentarians Human Story.
Dodson said he thinks the Main Street building can hold between 75 and 100 members, but said Gather will cut off memberships when it begins to feel too full. Capacity will depend largely on how many people tend use the building at one time – some members are there 40 hours a week, others use the facility five or 10 hours a week, Dodson said.
In its second location, Gather will look to expand its private office selection to include more and larger enclosed spaces, ranging up to three- or four-desk rooms. Dodson said Gather probably could have used more of those on Main Street.
“The offices and desks rented faster than we thought, and the straight co-working space has rented a little slower than we thought,” he said. “It’s a bit of a paradox – a lot of people like their own private office, but they also like the collaborative environment.”
Dodson said Gather would like to find a second building to renovate. Gather’s ownership spent about $700,000 renovating its Main Street building after buying the property last year for about $1 million. The budget for the second Gather will be about the same on a dollars-per-square foot basis, Dodson said.
Gather would prefer to buy and renovate an existing building, but is also open to building from the ground up or leasing. Its final decision will depend on the location.
The company used historic tax credits to offset some development costs at its first property. Most of Scott’s Addition and the Fan could qualify for the incentive, but historic districts are harder to come by in the suburbs.
“We see the benefits of Short Pump, we see the benefits of Scott’s Addition and the Fan, and we’re just trying to figure out what’s best,” Dodson said.