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Co-working office space looks to bring sense of collaboration to downtown Westminster

CoGarage is a new co-working space being opened in the old City Garage Building on East Main Street in Westminster.
CoGarage is a new co-working space being opened in the old City Garage Building on East Main Street in Westminster. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Nick Kellar, a real estate agent at Atlas Premier Realty in Westminster, said he and his partner Greg Brock are big believers in small businesses — and they want to bring some together, under the same roof.

Kellar and Brock are the owners of CoGarage, a new co-working space in downtown Westminster that’s designed to serve the Carroll County community and its working professionals in a somewhat unusual way.

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CoGarage, once the historic City Garage that was built in the 1920s, was repurposed to honor the early 1900s heritage of the landmark in the Main Street community. Brock, the broker/owner of Atlas Premier Realty, and Kellar were attracted to the building for this historic purpose and wanted to honor its heritage in their development of CoGarage at the same time.

“Until now, I haven’t really been able to find a whole lot of examples of co-working in smaller communities like this,” Kellar said. “So, there’s not a model to really follow on this other than what’s been reserved predominantly for bigger cities and bigger towns like Baltimore, Washington [D.C.], or other urban cities.”

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CoGarage offers features such as a la carte business services, high-speed internet, hourly conference rooms, according to its website.

Kellar said CoGarage opened in late February, when it landed its first two members — just before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The pandemic has made it more difficult to increase its membership in recent months, and Kellar said he and Brock have contemplated temporarily changing the current setup.

Although the office is currently open and didn’t close amid the pandemic, Kellar said, “We weren’t actively promoting it because it didn’t seem socially responsible.”

“Morally and ethically, we’re trying to do the right thing and not encourage people to come out if we’re being told to social distance and stay inside,” he said. “We don’t want to put it out there for new members if it’s not the right time to do it.”

Kellar hopes to see CoGarage provide a sense of comfort and collaboration between business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, nonprofits and anyone else who uses this work space, as opposed to working alone from a dining room table at home.

Companies such as Amazon, Apple and Disney serve as inspiration for Kellar and Brock because each of these multimillion-dollar businesses was founded in homes, garages or small office spaces, created by people who devoted time and energy to making their creations into the conglomerates they are today.

“We think this can be a fantastic Main Street with commerce, shopping, restaurants, and maybe a little bit of nightlife, but not do away with the family-oriented nature of it,” Kellar said. ‘We think it has room to continue to grow and prosper, and we think it can be built on the back of small business.”

CoGarage is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory Inc., or MAGIC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Westminster. Executive director Graham Dodge, who previously served as the founding CEO of illness-tracking startup Sickweather, helped Kellar and Brock get started with CoGarage.

CoGarage was a PNC Bank Training Center before Kellar and Brock purchased the property and started tossing around ideas of what to do with the building in December. It took about three months for things to come together.

CoGarage is located at 118 E. Main St., one block away from Westminster City Park and within walking distance of popular local establishments such as Johanssons, O’Lordans Irish Pub and Rafael’s Restaurant.

“In a co-working space, you’re going to collaborate and you’re going to meet new people,” Kellar said. “Maybe you meet somebody who has a marketing background, and you guys are grabbing coffee together and decide to do lunch.

“Hopefully it encourages and promotes the walkability of Main Street because I think that’s the creative, viable, visible and healthy mainstream community.”

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