A new co-working space will be much more than that after more than $1 million in renovations are put into the former Swan Cleaners site at the Shops on Lane Avenue, according to the founder of the firm taking on the project.
COhatch founder and president Matt Davis is excited about the prospect of helping individuals, nonprofits and small businesses thrive in Upper Arlington by offering 30 private offices, 20 dedicated desks and more than 50 spaces at 1735 W. Lane Ave.
He also promises the 10,335 square feet his Worthington-based company is renovating on the first and second floors next to Carsonie’s Stromboli & Pizza Kitchen will serve families and the community with event space, a conference room, a cafe, a game room and social spaces.
“We love to build locations in the hearts of cities,” Davis said. “We really look for strong communities that we can partner with to drive improvement.”
Upper Arlington will be the fourth of 10 COhatch offices planned in the Columbus region.
The firm opened its first location in Worthington in 2016. It currently operates two sites in Worthington and one is under development in Delaware.
As in Worthington, Davis is working with private investors as well as the city. In Upper Arlington, those investors are Chris and Tammy Watkins, city residents he called “philanthropic entrepreneurs.”
“They’re funding us because they really care about what’s happening in Upper Arlington,” he said.
COhatch’s Upper Arlington facility is expected to open by December.
The firm will occupy about 1,800 square feet on the first floor and approximately 8,500 square feet on the second floor, which will be dubbed the Overlook.
According to Upper Arlington Economic Development Director Joe Henderson, the project will include the addition of an elevator leading to the second floor, bringing the building into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, as well as a new fire-suppression system.
“The elevator and fire-suppression system improvements would be necessary in order for the space to be marketable and useable moving forward,” Henderson said.
“It appears that the second-story space has not been occupied for 30-plus years, based on observations of the existing conditions.”
A March 19 staff report Henderson provided to Upper Arlington City Council said the renovations would cost more than $1.2 million.
Davis estimated the cost would be “well over” $1.5 million.
To help finance the work, council members voted unanimously March 26 to give COhatch a $100,000 forgivable loan/grant.
The company will receive up to another $100,000 in forgivable assistance if it and its tenants generate $100,000 in annual income taxes in the third and fourth years of operation.
In return, COhatch has agreed to a 10-year lease at the Shops on Lane site.
Henderson’s March 19 staff report said measures will be in place to ensure that the forgivable loan/grant is paid back to the city “if COhatch does not satisfy their obligations.”
The report said COhatch has offered Upper Arlington “unique opportunities where we will be able to utilize their space as part of the city’s economic development efforts … Further, this project will help to renovate and bring back on the market over 10,000 square feet of office space along Lane Avenue, one of the city’s top corridors for commercial, office and mixed-use development.”
Davis said he seeks out “idle community assets” such as the space at the Shops on Lane, for his projects.
In addition to providing office space to solo legal practitioners and small businesses such as accounting firms and real estate offices, Davis said the Upper Arlington office would provide space to 10 local nonprofit organizations at no cost or at discounted fees through a scholarship program.
“The subsidies come from our members, who basically donate to the center,” he said. “Those nonprofits, instead of being in garages or a basement or place where no one knows where they are, we put them front and center.
“We’re also helping rebrand the whole strip mall with the front of our center,” he said.
“You’ll be able to overlook all of Lane Avenue when you work or have your event. It’s going to be a gorgeous facility.”