Could Open Space work in Crozet?

I’ve made no secret about how much I like Open Space in Charlottesville. While they are still trying to, in the words of a friend, “trying to find their soul” – seeking their own personality as it were, it’s a fantastic concept, and is a space I use as frequently as possible.

I’m a Realtor, so having a great space to work and meet clients is crucial, but not something I need every day.

My question is this – if there were an Open Space in Crozet – in Old Trail for example – would you use it?

What is Open Space Co-working?

For starters, it is going to be a place where I (others, too, but I’m really looking forward to this space) will be able to rent time to work in an aesthetically pleasing, architecturally designed professional workspace populated by fellow creative professionals, many of whom I suspect will either be fellow entrepreneurs or telecommuters who live in Charlottesville and work in other parts of the country or world.

For years, the Charlottesville area (really Central Virginia) has been a destination location; I think that OpenSpace fills a void.

Or, from the co-working wiki:

Coworking is cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents.

Or, it’s like this: start with a shared office and add cafe culture. Which is the opposite of most modern cafes. ?

Right now, lacking a physical office outside of home, I spend an inordinate amount of time in coffee shops … but coffee shops don’t have quiet spaces to meet with clients as well as talk on the phone or Skype. Take some of the people from coffee shops, provide a cool space with conference rooms, Apple displays, great lighting (and coffee, hopefully) – and the possibilities are pretty exciting.

I’ll have access to all of the above – and more – in OpenSpace.

So there you have it – a beautiful office space, rentable by the hour or in bulk.

I see this as being yet another way that Crozet may becoming self-sufficient.

Take a look at some photos of the Charlottesville Open Space.

What do you think? Would you use it?

Update: the GetOpenSpace blog has an interesting story this morning.

More and more people are choosing to work away from the traditional office. Today’s technology makes this easier by allowing us to stay fully connected almost anywhere we roam.

This new breed of worker has been lingoed: a “nomad”, the “mobile worker”, or “worker in limbo”. The word on the street is that about 23% of the U.S. do their jobs outside of the office and this number is on the rise.

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7 Replies to “Could Open Space work in Crozet?”

  1. I’m a commuting professional who works in Charlottesville and lives in Crozet. I’m lucky enough to work for an organization that has implemented ROWE (a topic for another day) which means I can work wherever and whenever I want. In general, I go to my office but I’d be willing to work more in Crozet if there were some dedicated space for it. With two kids, working at home is out of the question. Mudhouse works in a pinch but an OpenSpace annex in Crozet would be great for home based productivity and for networking with like minded professionals. I would, absolutely, use the space.

  2. Jim, I wouldn’t need such a space, but it makes alot of sense. I would think it would contain Internet, copy and fax equipment, an office secretary/aide, who could assist clients, collect money,operate the machines, take messages, etc. The idea reminds me of a business incubator. The old Community Credit Union building would be a good spot, if parking could be worked out.

  3. Jim, as you know I love the concept of OpenSpace. And once given some thought, I might actually think it could work better in some place like Crozet, where many of the residents into Charlottesville. However, I’ve heard that many of these places around the country haven’t been making it (a recent example was in the suburbs of Denver, where many people commute into the city). I’m not sure if this was due to poor planning or just general lack of use, but I’d be curious about other co-working success/failure stories in similar communities.

  4. Jim,
    This sounds like an incredible concept! I officially work out of an office in Richmond. But the truth is that my home and car serve the greater role of a base. This concept would certainly better serve my professional and organizational needs. I would love to see the space and have the details of the features.

    Thanks,
    Sharie

  5. Hi Jim,

    Good question. I once considered starting a co-working facility at Old Trail; but, after doing a market and financial analysis, decided against it. For what it’s worth, I’ll share why:

    At a minimum, the annual operating cost for the first two years is around $65K, when factoring a commercial lease for 2000 sq/ft; capital cost for furniture and equipment; plus insurance, utilities, phone, broadband, etc. If the business charged $100/month for unlimited access, then it would require approx. 55 annual members to break even.

    After informal discussions with people, I discovered that most (but not all) telecommuters and self-employed individuals would rather frequent a coffee shop, than commit to a monthly fee. Although a membership size of 55 seems relatively small, my conclusion was that the Crozet-area market is not yet big enough to sustain a co-working facility business.

    –Randy

  6. Everyone, thanks so much for your comments. I really appreciate it and I’m sure the Open Space folks do as well.

    The question really is – does Crozet yet have the critical mass to support an Open Space? I honestly don’t know. I think we will in three years, but now I’m not so sure.

    Hmmm … maybe if we could somehow access this years’ tax returns and see how many people in the Crozet area are claiming the deduction for telecommuting … 🙂

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