For a decade, Lisa Kuznear has operated her bookkeeping business out of her home in Howard County. She said usually people think of working from home as a good thing because it can be free of distractions and quieter than working in an office.
But, she said, “you get stagnant working at home.”
That’s why when she learned about a new co-working space, Pivot Creative Spaces, in Catonsville through an advertisement online, she jumped into action.
“I signed up that night,” Kuznear said. “After 10 years [at home], I need some noise.”
Pivot Creative Spaces, located at 640 Frederick Road, in the former First National Bank building, is slated to open Oct. 17.
Brandon Kostinsky, founder and owner of Pivot, said that so far, five individuals have purchased memberships, including an attorney and a pet store owner.
In total, Pivot has 10 desk spaces and can accommodate 25 additional members who do not have a dedicated desk space.
A monthly membership buys access to Pivot’s 2,500-square-foot space, Wi-Fi, abundant electrical outlets, a conference room with a phone, a stocked coffee and tea bar, and invitations from Pivot to seminars and networking events at the facility. A one-day pass costs $20, but monthly plans range from $150 to $400. Students can get a five-time monthly pass for $50; for non-students, the cost is $100.
The benefits of membership range from daytime access, with an undedicated desk space, to 24/7 access with a dedicated desk and filing cabinet. An undedicated desk space membership means a customer can walk in and find space to work, be it on a couch, at a high-top table or in the upstairs loft. Dedicated desk members are assigned one of the 10 desks. Members also get access to a conference room, where meetings can be scheduled online, as well as printing, faxing and a full-time community manager to help with cleaning, mail sorting and other office tasks.
Kostinsky said that by the end of the year, he hopes to have the basement of the building fully renovated, where Pivot will offer four to five private office spaces for $650 a month. A full list of membership plans is on the company’s website, https://pivotmd.net/membership/.
Kostinsky said almost all business types would be accepted, with few limitations.
While Pivot Creative Spaces is a first for Catonsville, co-working spaces have been established throughout the U.S., particularly in large cities such as New York, Washington, Austin and Kansas City since the late 1990s, giving rise to a niche rental model that has now spread worldwide.
One of the largest companies in the field, WeWork, founded in 2010, has more than 268,000 global members in 77 cities and 23 countries, said Mary Jennings, a spokeswoman for WeWork. She said the company has 143,000-plus members and 142 locations in the U.S.
WeWork is opening a Baltimore location in Harbor Point by the beginning of 2020, Jennings said.
NAIOP (formerly the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, which has abandoned the full name and just uses the acronym), an industry organization that tracks commercial real estate trends and innovations, wrote about co-working spaces in 2015.
Its president and CEO, Thomas Bisacquino, said co-working spaces are definitely a “viable” endeavor.
Bisacquino said co-work spaces won’t “kill off the traditional office model,” but said they’ve changed how offices are run to some extent.
“Property managers in traditional office spaces are more like a concierge; they’re becoming like a service worker,” he said. Office building owners want their “tenants to feel like they’re walking into a hotel.”
A downside, Bisacquino said, could come when the economy “inevitably” slows or goes into some downturn. Those who currently hold memberships for co-working spaces might not be able to afford them then.
The proliferation and popularity of co-work spaces as a whole will “face some headwinds when the economy slows down,” he said.
A creative space in Catonsville
The co-work space in the 19th-century bank building has been renovated but has retained some of its historic features, such as crown molding and a version of the old vault in the basement, giving the modern space a historic charm.
Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, said she thought having Pivot on Frederick Road was “great for our community.”
“I know there are a lot of small business owners that work out of their homes, so I think it’ll be great to have an office where they could do meetings or meet with clients,” Cary said.
But anecdotally, Cary said, she has had members ask to use the chamber’s offices for meetings, which can be difficult to schedule. So, having a space where chamber of commerce members and other business owners can rent out meeting rooms in Catonsville would be a net positive, she said. Customers can rent just the conference room at Pivot Creative Spaces online, Kostinsky said.
Kostinsky said he would be open to changing some things about Pivot — how many dedicated desk spaces versus open spaces are available, for example — based on how the community and its members respond to the space.
“I want to be responsive to the community,” he said. “I like creating businesses that have a direct impact on the community.”