Mark Foley said he can see a future where all of downtown is a co-working space.
The developer has opened three such spaces — where small start-ups and individual entrepreneurs share an office complex — in the city, starting with The Loft in the Chittenden building in 2011, and he is expects to open a fourth later this year.
“We are continually opening more and more of them,” Foley said. “What’s taking off is people wanting those amenities, Wi-Fi.”
Foley said he has 15 people working out of his established spaces.
“Most of them are groups of offices because people want to have their own offices, but they want a shared common space, a shared kitchen. ... They want a place where they can lock up and leave their stuff. ... People hanging around on couches, individual desks that are open, hasn’t caught on the way I thought it might.”
For the next location, in the former radio station space inside the Opera House, Foley said he plans a hybrid of the two models.
Foley isn’t alone in the co-working space game either. DX2 Properties just launched one at a unit in its office building at 51 Killington Ave. The shared-desk space is available starting at $175 a month and offers not just internet, but printing and video conferencing.
Nikki Hindman, executive director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership, said interest in such spaces is on the rise.
“I was definitely seeing it a lot before the pandemic and I think we’re going to see more of that as we move toward normalcy,” she said. “They’re especially looking for something that’s flexible.”
Community and Economic Development of the Rutland Region executive director Lyle Jepson said developing more co-working spaces was one option he planned to explore in an upcoming self-assessment process with the Center on Rural Innovation. Such spaces have the potential to incubate more office-oriented businesses, Jepson said, the same way The MINT has incubated small manufacturers — especially in the more open models were the people sharing the space provide a co-workerly feel.
“There are innovators here who are ready to innovate,” Jepson said. “There is going to be, in the future, the need to get back out again. The working remotely is great for some people, but it’s not great for others. ... We need to be together to create and innovate together.”