Company Culture
Coworking / Real estate

Benjamin’s Desk new spot is right by the Divine Lorraine building

North Broad real estate hype monsters, eat your heart out.

The Studebaker Building, where Divine Works will open up shop. (Photo by Anthony Maher)
Full Disclosure: (and its parent company Technically Media) is a tenant of Benjamin's Desk.

Now we know why Benjamin’s Desk co-CEO Anthony Maher had been hyping up the Divine Lorraine Hotel on Twitter (other than the fact that it’s a local treasure): the local coworking space just announced the neighboring Studebaker Building as the location of its next space under its relatively new “Powered by” model, similar to a franchise model.

In partnership with North Broad developer Eric Blumenfeld, the company will open up a a 17,000-square-foot space called Divine Works Powered by Benjamin’s Desk. According to a company press release, the space will follow that modern real estate ethos of a “live/work/play lifestyle” for neighborhood residents, including the incoming tenants of the swanky, hipsterlicious Divine Lorraine Apartments.

When the space debuts — fall 2017, according to Maher — so will a membership model called Resident+, which includes access to a “luxurious, private lounge,” introductions to companies, access to community gatherings and priority access to conference rooms, among other perks.

Prices for this new level of access, which includes dedicated desk space, will be set up in two tiers: $199 or $350 a month, depending on amenities added. Think of the new pricing model like a premium version of normal BD subscriptions.

From the current description of the new space, you could think of it as a natural progression of the company’s licensing philosophy: Ben’s Desk will help shape culture at each licensing deal, rather than impose it, as Maher said at the time.

“On any given day at Divine Works, we expect you’ll see neighborhood residents learning how to launch companies, remarkable entrepreneurs motivating their teams, investors from family offices and angel syndicates holding critical meetings, and inspiring leaders hosting outstanding events,” said Maher. “All within the same building.”

In a promo email sent on Tuesday morning to its members, the company said it expects “an unprecedented response” from local business leaders, “especially from those who might not have considered coworking as an option in the past.”

Real estate developers have been talking about North Broad a whole lot in the last few years. The arrival of a coworking space signals its reaching the peak of its hype cycle.

The question is: can the bootstrapped coworking firm lure in the crowd of movers and shakers it’s promising? The proximity of Blumenfeld’s other developments along North Broad (Mural Arts and Lofts 640, as Curbed Philly notes) is one point in the premise’s favor. For investors, the appeal of having early access to early-stage companies is also a plus.

For the time being, the company is focused on redeveloping the space alongside Blumenfeld. If the early sketches of the redeveloped property are any suggestion, look out for what might be Benjamin’s Desk most artsy-looking space yet, as the coworking provider has generally strayed from flashy fitouts, à la WeWork or Industrious.

Companies: 76 Forward
People: Anthony Maher / Jennifer Maher

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