(Photo by April Joyner)
Thursday marked the official launch of coworking space BKLYN Commons.
Located at 495 Flatbush Ave., right near Prospect Park, the 12,000-square-foot space includes 53 dedicated offices and 16 open desks, as well as a conference room, common area and rooftop patio. Nearly 100 local professionals registered for the space’s kickoff event, which featured DJ Tommy James of Greenpoint’s Good Room and food and drink from local restaurants.
BKLYN Commons’ president, Jack Srour, a real estate developer, said he was inspired to open the space after observing the coworking boom in Manhattan. By comparison, outside of Brooklyn’s tech triangle, coworking options in Brooklyn have been somewhat limited, although growing, he said. In mid-January, Srour began renting space in one of his buildings to local professionals. After booking 18 of the 23 initially available offices in eight weeks, he’s added more space, and by June, he hopes to expand the offices to 20,000 square feet. Another outdoor patio and a food court are also being developed.
BKLYN Commons’ rental rates, which start at $150 per month for an open desk and $375 for a dedicated office, are quite affordable compared to those of other local coworking spaces. Those are promotional rates, though, and will go up once spaces are filled. All rates include 24/7 access to the building, conference room availability, WiFi and beverages.
This isn’t just a real-estate play, Srour says: “It’s not just a business, it’s an experiment to get people connecting.”
Key to BKLYN Commons’ outreach is word of mouth and neighborhood-based programming by Srour’s team, which includes general manager Vered Vaknin and community manager Johanne Brierre. Brierre says she plans to survey nearby entrepreneurs to tailor future events, which may include art exhibits and industry seminars. Another strategy: collaborating with event planners, such as Saun Duchess and Adey Hailu, who co-produced Thursday’s launch party.
Indeed, many attendees didn’t necessarily come with the purpose of becoming tenants, but to meet other professionals in the area. Nikolai Calder, a recent graduate of Dev Bootcamp, which trains aspiring computer programmers, said he enjoyed not having to travel a great distance to connect with others in his field. “I didn’t expect a coworking space to open up in this neighborhood,” he said.
But the space did make an impression. Afua McKinney and Shenica Odom, who are working on a fashion accessories company that will also act as a networking hub for independent designers, said they may consider BKLYN Commons as an office venue. “I’m interested in seeing … what types of businesses are drawn in,” Odom said.