The Cordish Cos. marked the opening Friday of Spark, a collaborative workspace near the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore designed to attract technology startups and entrepreneurs seeking flexibility to grow through shared or private office space.
The opening event, at Market Place at Cordish's Power Plant Live project, drew about 200 guests, including Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, business and city leaders and some of the tenants who already fill 19 of 22 private offices.
The city is fast becoming a technology hub with a range of tech incubators, and the developer has seen increased demand for space that gives incubator businesses a place to go with the flexibility of not being locked into a long-term lease, said Alex Fine, Baltimore development director for Cordish.
"What's unique about the space is we're not just a building, we're a community," said Shervonne Cherry, community manager for Spark.
The Baltimore-based developer started the project in March, redesigning 20,000 square feet on three floors to carve out shared amenities such as a lounge, kitchen, and gourmet coffee and beer bar, as well as workspace options that range from desk space to private offices to suites. Tenants lease space on a month-to-month basis and can adjust their workspace arrangements for changes in staffing levels.
Hogan said the Cordish venture will let entrepreneurs connect with other entrepreneurs in a city that's becoming popular for the "creative class."
It's "another example of the revitalization of this great city through new and innovative ideas," Hogan said.
Mike Subelsky, chief technology officer of advertising technology company STAQ, said he leases space at Spark where he expects to triple in size by the end of the year. He said he left a government job in 2003 to start his own business after being encouraged to do so by the members of the city's tech startup community.
"Being in Baltimore is a huge asset for us," he said.
Rawlings-Blake said the climate for tech startups has changed from when she was growing up and young people left the city to seek opportunity.
"Now people around the country are trying to move here," she said.