It was about 18 months ago that Curbed looked at the inventory of coworking spaces around Seattle and found almost two dozen worth writing about. Back then, the story was the sudden, almost explosive growth of the coworking concept, which previously had been treated like "overflow cubicles" (by companies on the brink of expansion) or "office-on-demand" (by landlords with empty space). The turning point came in 2014 when a national outfit called WeWork opened a vast space in South Lake Union for freelance tech workers.
"Coworking is now a real thing," says Su-Zette Sparks, co-founder of the latest entry into the field, called Coterie WorkLounge, in the heart of downtown. Until now, even the best neighborhood locations have lacked the plush elegance of a a prestigious office, a problem neatly solved by WorkLounge, which occupies 10,000 square feet of space at 1414 4th Avenue. "This is ever so much nicer than my kitchen table," Sparks points out, as she shows visitors the full bar at the front, the assortment of private and semi-private work spaces, the conference rooms of various sizes.
One of the reasons for the success of coffee shops around Seattle is the need for a "Third Place" (neither home nor office) that is turf-neutral, where entrepreneurs can work on their own projects or meet with contractors. But these locations rarely have all the right amenities: power strips, high-speed broadband, privacy, flexible meeting space. Let alone snacks and booze.
Coterie WorkLounge has taken over space on heavily-trafficked Fourth Avenue that was, for decades, occupied by the lobby of a series of banks. First, the original Peoples Bank, which was taken over by US Bank. Most recently, it was branded as Northern Trust Company. The remainder of the building, which spans the alley between Fourth and Fifth, was transformed from banking offices into a Red Lion Conference Center, and is now called Motif, a Destinations Resort Hotel, with a popular bar, Frolik on the 5th floor terrace.
Coterie WorkLounge has no relationship with The Coterie Room, an event space in Belltown. It does, however, have a restaurant-quality catering kitchen tucked into one corner, with a professional chef, Dominic McDonald (late of Tulio and Purple) to prepare a limited daytime menu: omelets, salads, panini, pizzas.
The founders, Sparks and her partner Leah Richmond, also envision turning the place into an event venue for companies that need flexible space after hours. Says Richmond, "Increasingly, professionals work in a variety of locations — at home, in a coffee shop or even in a bar. Coterie Worklounge melds the best features of the workplace and private clubs to create a stylish lounge that performs like an office."
In the meantime, Coterie WorkLounge is open for drop-in users who pay $30 a day to members who pay $160 a month. Conference facilities run from $35 to $150 an hour.
· Coterie WorkLounge [CWL]
· Finding The Perfect Seattle Coworking Space For You [CS]
Photos: Coterie Workspace