(Photo by Juliana Reyes)
MakeOffices has arrived in Philadelphia.
We visited the coworking company’s first location yesterday morning, riding the marble elevators up to the 25th floor of Two Commerce Square (2001 Market St.), where the D.C.-based, venture-backed coworking company has the entire floor. Seven employees, who were up from D.C., were milling about the 25,000-square-foot space, including cofounder Chris Junior, who was getting the coffee machine ready for opening day: Jan. 25.
But this first office space — with more than 80 private offices, several of which boast soaring views of the Schuylkill and the Cira Centre — pales in comparison to what MakeOffices has planned for Philly.
This spring, the company is slated to open a three-floor, 67,000-square-foot space at 1635 Market St. with a 110-person event space. Shortly after that, it’ll open a 55,000-square-foot space inside The Bourse in Old City. (The Bourse has made it clear that it’s trying to attract tech tenants.) For comparison’s sake: the massive, three-floor Impact Hub space in Kensington was 27,000 square feet.
If all goes to plan, MakeOffices will have the largest coworking footprint in the city by the end of 2016, and CEO Raymond Rahbar said the company will likely expand further.
“Get ready for Philly,” he said to Jazmin Jabbarnia, a Bucks County native who works on the company’s expansion team. She has dozens of tours of the space scheduled for this week.
It’s the biggest expansion MakeOffices has executed yet, and in a city that is watching the coworking scene evolve from homegrown offerings to more corporate imports. (Benjamin’s Desk is one coworking space that seems to be straddling the line between the two.)
MakeOffices, which recently changed its name from UberOffices, has seven locations in its hometown and one in Chicago. (Though the company closed the deal on the 2001 Market St. space a year ago, it had to wait until the former tenant moved out.)
Rahbar, 34, clad in a black MakeOffices T-shirt, called Philly an “easy city to go into.”
It has a large population that’s “educated, diverse and has a stable, high income level,” he later wrote in an email to us, as well as a dense concentration of startups — though Make doesn’t solely target startups. They are industry agnostic, which helps its members do business with each other, he said.
He’s confident about Make’s prospects in Philadelphia. Members, he said, join for the low price and stay for the amenities and programming. (Private offices start at $700/month, comparable to upscale South Broad Street coworking space Industrious. The first location at 2001 Market only offers private offices but future locations will also offer community desk space.)
“We suspect by March 31 we’ll be sold out,” Rahbar said.
Why expand into Philadelphia so quickly?
Rahbar said Make is “old enough” and “large enough” to do it.
Plus, he said: “We know there’s a massive demand for good real estate.”
So it made sense to jump on a second and third location. He’s eyeing other neighborhoods, like Callowhill, but said it’s harder to find a large enough office space to make a deal worth it.
Make will initially hire a local team of just under 10, including three community managers per space, a facilities staffer and an events and marketing staffer.
They’ll also be hosting a launch party on Jan. 21.-30-
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