Updated: May 29, 2018
While renovating part of the former Zettler Hardware in Worthington to house a Snap Fitness franchise last winter, Matt Davis checked out the more than century-old building's second floor, with boarded windows and collapsing ceilings, and saw a business model.
“I fell in love with the bones of it,” he said.
CoHatch Worthington LLC, a co-working and meeting space that marshals members to support local nonprofits, opened Oct. 4 in renovated 4,000 square feet at 659 High St. in the heart of downtown Worthington's shopping district. Already it has 40 members, ranging from temporary drop-ins to businesses that have claimed its nine private and two shared offices, said Davis, managing partner.
Expansion is following quickly: Worthington City Council votes next month on a proposed lease and economic development agreement for CoHatch to renovate and lease half of the city-owned Kilbourne Memorial Building on the historic Village Green. Rent would be abated for 10 years for a total of $510,000 to recoup most of the construction cost.
The public library, city economic development department and chamber all asked to host events in both locations.
“All of the city is really embracing it and using it," Davis said. "That’s what we think is important to establish.”
In the first space, co-founders Joel and Elisabeth Limes moved their design business, Brand Stamp Studio LLC, into one of the private offices. Other members include Realtors, attorneys and writers. Most live nearby and were working from home or commuting to suburban office parks or downtown Columbus.
“It doesn’t have to be millennials or high-tech startups," Davis said.
He'd toured the Short North location of Industrious Office, which is mainly private offices; Clintonville's Salt Mines co-working; and Arena District's Sparkspace offsite meeting space for team-building.
“What we thought was important was to merge and have all those services available, at a smaller scale," he said.
CoHatch also has a social enterprise component: Collecting food pantry donations in exchange for use of meeting space, and giving a free membership to a nonprofit that members also help with branding and other services.
“We really believe co-working is about caring for the community not just coming in and working," he said.
Other cities have approached the partners, who are considering options for new locations.