A more than $1.5 million renovation to a 2-story site at the Shops on Lane Avenue has yielded a new COhatch co-working space called the Overlook that was unveiled to the community Aug. 5.
The 10,800-square-foot office at 1733 W. Lane Ave. is the fifth of 10 planned COhatch offices to open in the Columbus area.
COhatch co-founder and CEO Matt Davis said it's the company's largest venture yet, bigger than the facilities already operating at COhatch's headquarters in Worthington and at offices in Delaware and Dublin and at Polaris Fashion Place.
In addition to repurposing the former Swan Cleaners, the project included a renovation of roughly 9,300 square feet upstairs in a space that had been unused for decades. Joe Henderson, the city's development director, said it had been empty for more than 35 years, and Davis thought it was closer to 50 years.
The facility offers Wi-Fi, fax and mail services to members. It houses several conference rooms, 30 private office spaces and five dedicated desks.
It also features a first-floor coffee bar and game room, a cafe upstairs and free beer and wine for individuals who purchase memberships starting at $59 per month.
Henderson called COhatch "a huge asset to the city."
"They are taking the 2nd-story space at Shops on Lane ... and turning it into beautiful office space for our business community," Henderson said. "Not only will it continue to grow the city's office base, but it will have a positive effect on all the restaurants and businesses in the area with daytime patrons."
"There are very few places where people can meet and do events in UA," Davis said. "We want our spaces to be well-known centers of gravity for communities, and our space in UA is the perfect complement. We've already had a huge outpouring of support here.
"Our concept to build a 2.0 version of the community town hall is integral to what Upper Arlington represents," he said. "We are building a place for like-minded people to connect, work and socialize to get the most out of their talent and to live an integrated lifestyle."
A COhatch membership allows access to any of the company's Columbus-area offices, as well as locations in Fairborn and Springfield. Davis said the company also has plans to open up to 10 additional facilities in the Indianapolis area.
All that growth has occurred since COhatch opened its first office in Worthington in October 2016.
"With Upper Arlington, there's such a demand for our core product of co-working office and just general meeting space," he said. "This space also has our largest event venue. We could have a meeting of about 60-some people in one space. You could probably host one single event with several hundred people in here if they took the whole thing over.
In addition to providing office space to solo legal practitioners and such small businesses as accounting firms and real estate offices, Davis said, the Upper Arlington office would provide space to 10 local nonprofit organizations at no cost or at discounted fees through a scholarship program.
The company intends to provide other community outreach initiatives and serve as a gathering place for residents, according to Davis.
To that end, it will hold a grand opening from 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 24. The Aloha-themed event is free and will include a hog roast picnic, hula dancers and tours of the location. Drink tickets will be available for purchase.
"We really tried to engineer the space to have, I call it 'design for collision,' " Davis said. "So, you want there to be a very central-focused meeting space for energy.
"But always, we want people to go downstairs for coffee so they can 'collide' with people. That's how I think community happens. A lot of people try to spread out people and make them go to different spaces for privacy. I want to bring them together."
COhatch signed a 10-year lease for its Upper Arlington space.
In return, and for making the second floor compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Upper Arlington City Council agreed in March 2018 to give COhatch a $100,000 forgivable loan/grant to assist with the expense of the project.
Additionally, the company will receive up to another $100,000 in forgivable assistance from the city if it and its tenants generate $100,000 in annual income taxes in the third and fourth years of operation.
"The incentive the city did with COhatch was to help with ADA accessibility to the second-story space and we were excited to help," Henderson said.
"We look forward to seeing all the amazing positives this partnership brings to Upper Arlington."