One of the challenges of starting a company (especially a high-growth company) is finding office space. Flexibility (of lease term, of size of space) is a key requirement for many startups, and not something the commercial real estate industry (where long leases are the norm) is particularly adept at.
Enter WeWork. The coworking company takes on long-term commercial leases, outfits the space, then rents a negotiable and flexible number of desks out to startups for a flexible and negotiable amount of time, and has risen to the height of an approximately $20 billion valuation by doing so.
But let’s say you’re too big for WeWork (WeWork will argue this is not the case, but let’s leave that to the side for now) but still a little too small (or volatile, in the best possible way, of course) for the big bad world of traditional commercial real estate. What do you do?
Gould Property Company, a real estate owner and investor in the DMV area, is building out one possible answer. It’s called (in its first iteration anyway) 1725 DeSales Tech Suites. The suites, located at 1725 DeSales St. just south of Dupont, are small-ish (designed for 15-20-employee companies and amenable to relatively short lease terms. They also strive to be “cool” in the same way a WeWork or a 1776 are “cool” spaces — albeit with a more personalized twist.
The company hires designers to emulate the trendy coworking space style, Gould’s Charles Lancaster told Technical.ly. When a company moves into a suite at 1725 they are given a brand consultant to help outfit the space in a way that is cohesive to the company. For the midsize startup, Lancaster hopes, the ability to develop a visual and spacial brand (which is not really an option at coworking spaces) will be attractive.
The “ideal” lease term, Lancaster told Technical.ly, is five years. He hinted, however, that this isn’t set in stone.
Of course 1725 DeSales isn’t just for tech companies. RealClearPolitics is a current client, for example. But Lancaster sees the model as a useful addition to a growing tech landscape like D.C.
The interesting thing about 1725 DeSales, from our perspective, is the vision of the future of the workplace that it lays out. WeWork has argued in the past that coworking is the future of the workplace, and maybe there’s something to this. But in the 1725 DeSales Tech Suites we see another option (or element?) — real estate developers learning from the coworking movement, adopting some of the popular elements (flexibility, design, etc.) and putting their own spin on it.
Maybe that’s what the future will look like?