When bringing your business to a new city it’s paramount to get a feel for the particularities of that place, says Morris Levy, cofounder of the Brooklyn-born coworking company The Yard.
“We don’t really take cabs,” he said. “We spend a lot of time walking.”
All that walking serves to help answer a question that’s really important to Levy — namely, is this somewhere where I would want to spend my time?
This question has become increasingly front-of-mind for Levy as his company sets about growing. In May, The Yard announced new locations in New York (Gowanus) as well as the first move into a new city — a Philly branch set to open in November. But truthfully it’s always been important. According to Levy, it’s the central reason why the company’s first location was in Williamsburg.
“Why?” he said. “Because that’s where I wanted to spend my time!”
So when The Yard decided to open a D.C. location, there was a lot of walking involved. Ultimately they settled on 700 Penn — that as-yet unfinished building across from the Eastern Market metro stop. Levy cites two main reasons the location felt right: there’s not a ton of competition, and it is close to a predominantly residential zone.
“Today the work cycle of a day isn’t really 9-to-5,” he said, adding that this is why it’s nice to have an office location with residential and commercial areas nearby. It’s also true that there aren’t many coworking spaces in the neighborhood, yet at least. As we noted here, SE D.C. is more or less a coworking desert.
Despite the relative openness of the neighborhood, however, D.C. isn’t exactly short on coworking spaces in general. WeWork alone has six spaces in D.C., with two more coming. So what makes The Yard stand out from its competitors?
When I ask this question, Levy brings up walls first. Not everyone, he says, wants to be peering through glass at his neighbor all day (ahem, WeWork). The Yard, on the other hand, aims to strike a balance between light (important) and privacy (also key). There’s also the cultural difference — according to Levy, The Yard works hard to create “a space that is less sophomoric or collegiate” than other options. This means no ping pong or beer during the day (you know who you are), though The Yard spaces to host curated events after the work day is over. Again, it’s a question of balance.
The Yard’s D.C. opening is still a ways off — (conservatively) October 2017, Levy said. In the mean time, take a walk around the neighborhood. See what you think.
(Also, from the Brooklyn expansion news department: coliving company Common is opening up shop in D.C.)