The pages of Craigslist are filled with budding young professionals who, unable to afford their own Metro-accessible apartments in high-rent Arlington, instead search for roommates and shared housing. In the past few years, a growing number of young businesses have been taking a similar approach to office space in Arlington: cheaper rent, good location and good company.
Five coworking offices have moved into Arlington in the past two years: UberOffices in Rosslyn, Carr Workplaces in Rosslyn and Clarendon, Link Locale in Clarendon and, most recently, The Ground Floor in Rosslyn in the same building as UberOffices.
The spaces offer relatively cheap rent in one of the country’s most expensive commercial real estate markets, and the flexibility to grow. Technology startups in Arlington and around the county have flocked to the business incubator-style setting, with in-house services, conference rooms and amenities usually reserved for large companies.
The spaces provide support in the form of kitchen space, conference rooms, and a variety of amenities. UberOffices, for instance, has video games and a foosball table. The Ground Floor, which opened this month, has a dedicated space for events.
“This concept has been around for a long time,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said. “It just hadn’t caught on, but I think the future will kind of force situations like this.”
Josh Newsome and Kaitlyn Walthall are a two-person team for Collins Engineering. They moved into UberOffices in January from a workspace in Tysons Corner. The Ballston residents said the search for a place with their requirements “two desks and high-speed Internet” was surprisingly difficult.
“There are only two of us,” Walthall said. “This is the only way to work together that’s not in a coffee shop.”
The coworking spaces have appealed primarily to small technology firms looking to grow their business away from home. Michael Fine, who programs for EventKloud, an event planning, marketing and software company, said tech companies by their nature require less space than businesses in other industries, making the coworking model ideal.
Fine said he’s had workers from other businesses come by and ask him to help out with bugs in their software, and he’s done the same.
“This setup allows cooperation,” he said. “A lot of startups in tech are more collaborative than in other fields.”
Arlington, and Northern Virginia as a whole, appear to be the perfect match for the business model; UberOffices just recently opened a second location in Tysons Corner. Virginia has the highest concentration of tech workers in the country, making up 9.8 percent of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, all coworking spaces are not created equal, says Jennifer Ives, the director of business investment with Arlington Economic Development. Co-working spaces, or accelerators as some are called, are widely varied. The Ground Floor is specifically targeting businesses that have grown out of the startup phase while, for very lean startups, some offices offer equity in the company in lieu of money for rent.
These kind of businesses are somewhat new to Arlington, but for years they have been in Europe, on the West Coast and, more recently, New York.
“It’s a preferred way of doing business in the new economy,” Ives said. “Many founders of companies and entrepreneurs do not prefer to be in an office with walls and separated from others. They really do like the coworking environment.”
Monday Properties owns Ground Floor, is UberOffices’ landlord and, in total, owns 3 million square feet of commercial real estate in Rosslyn, including 1812 N. Moore Street, the 35-story skyscraper set to open this October. Aaron Twersky, Monday’s director of marketing, said businesses looking for smaller space is only a positive, despite Arlington’s growing vacancy rate.
“You’re seeing a lot of consolidation, and that’s a great thing for corporate America,” Twerski said. “You’re seeing that a lot where larger companies are looking at their costs and saying… we don’t need all that.”
Ives said that businesses used to plan their needed square footage by estimating 250 square feet per worker. In recent years, that number has essentially been cut in half, with some companies requesting as little as 90 square feet per worker. That fact isn’t helping Arlington’s climbing commercial vacancy rate, but Arlington isn’t alone.
“This is a global trend,” Ives said. More coworking spaces will likely be coming to Arlington in the near future, she suggested.
“Arlington is an ideal location for the creative class and its highly educated workforce,” she said. “Those kinds of companies and that type of a workforce attracts a newer model of physical space, so there are many opportunities coming forward.”
Disclaimer: ARLnow.com’s offices are located in the UberOffices space in Rosslyn