Miami Dominates in Innovative Coworking Real Estate

Miami Dominates in Innovative Coworking Real Estate

By: Sara Warden

2 min read NOVEMBER 2019 — The traditional office space is changing fast. Hot-desking came first, and now with more pressure to recruit highly skilled personnel, workers are increasingly able to command perks such as home office and telecommuting. According to Fundera, telecommuting has grown by 40% in the last five years and employers offering the benefit save around $44 billion per year in total. The drive to home office also created a new real estate niche – coworking spaces – and that niche is now driving real estate growth in Miami.

“Coworking tenants continued to dominate absorption activity in Miami for the second quarter in a row as they continue to lease significant footprints in buildings throughout the market. Out of the seven largest lease transactions year-to-date, five were coworking tenants, with WeWork leading the number of coworking companies,” said Donna Abood and Michael Fay, Principals and Managing Directors-Miami at Avison Young in an article written for Rebusiness Online.

According to a special report by Yardi Matrix, coworking spaces accounted for one-third of leases over the last 18 months. Miami comes in third in terms of metros with most shared space as a percentage of real estate stock, at 3.5% –behind only Manhattan and Brooklyn. In the last 10 months, Miami has added around 1.1 million square feet of coworking spaces.

But one of the most highly-leveraged companies in the coworking arena is WeWork, a company that underwent a failed IPO attempt in the last year and wiped out around 80% of its value in the process. The company stretched itself too far, playing the Amazon tactic of taking on huge losses to undercut and wipe out the competition, but without having Amazon’s clout.

Alan Patricof, chairman emeritus of venture capital firm Greycroft and an early backer of Apple, does not believe the coworking space is a bad idea, but rather that WeWork simply bit off more than it could chew. “If you want to be a publicly traded company, you should act like a public company,” Patricof said in an interview with TechCrunch in September, adding that the board members “were all seeing the pot at the end of the rainbow.”

But the global value of coworking spaces is estimated at $26 billion, with growth of 6% expected in the United States to 2022 and 13% elsewhere. Despite WeWork’s errors in judgement, the market is there for a $49 billion valued unicorn, and Miami offers huge opportunities to those investing in the right way. According to Pandwe Gibson, founder and president of EcoTech Visions, a coworking space for manufacturing businesses, these spaces need to be constantly offering the next new thing. 

“Entrepreneurs in America don’t just need a WeWork. They don’t just need a desk. Entrepreneurs want to make stuff,” she told Moguldom. The Miami-based startup has 52,000 square feet of space and approximately $3.2 million in public and private investment to scale the business, while it carries out its first raise.

It doesn’t stop with manufacturing space. ShareMD recently spent $33.15 million to purchase a building in South Miami and one in Coral Gables in which to set up co-working spaces for doctors. “Because of the demographics in Florida, we are aggressively trying to expand in the metropolitan areas,” said Easton & Associates Vice President Elliot LaBreche, representing ShareMD in the deal in an interview with The Real Deal.

The attraction of this concept is accessibility to a doctor without the pressure to sign new clients, LaBreche added. “If you have a doctor, and their primary practice is in Fort Lauderdale, but they have some patients in Miami and West Palm, but not enough patients to support their practice, they can join the ShareMD network and use our offices as satellite offices.”


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Spotlight On: Frank Dame, EVP & COO , Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Spotlight On: Frank Dame, EVP & COO , Clearwater Marine Aquarium

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read November 2019 — The city of Clearwater has a lot of enticing offerings within its borders, ranging from the No. 1 beach in the United States to a multitude of arts and cultural options. One of the most widely recognizable features of the city is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. As a staple of marine conservation and education as well as the filming location for both Dolphin Tale feature length films, the aquarium has adapted its business model to remain strong after all these years. Invest: spoke with Executive Vice President and COO for the aquarium Frank Dame, about adapting its business practices to stay competitive, the renovations being made to the aquarium, the challenges from last year’s red tide and maintaining Clearwater’s No. 1 beach status. 


 How have you adapted your business to stay competitive?

Before the movie Dolphin Tale came out, we implemented a new philosophy and strategy. Although we are a nonprofit, we decided we would run the aquarium like a for-profit company and develop a business model that could fund the operations of Clearwater Marine Aquarium with minimal donations. We would then use donations to expand the business and for our various initiatives. We set this business model in place, and then expanded the gift shop, improved the guest experience and enhanced our food service. This started to drive revenue, and between 2006 and 2010, we grew attendance from 75,000 a year to about 220,000 just before the movie was released. The year after the movie was released in 2012, our attendance went from 220,000 to over 740,000. 

What can be expected for Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s new facilities? 

We are under construction. This is an $80-million project that is being supported by the city, county and the state. We were awarded $26 million from Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, while the city of Clearwater gave us $5 million, plus the land where we are located. The state of Florida also donated another $3 million in a grant, and we have an ongoing capital campaign to raise another $15 million. Overall, we have had a tremendous amount of support from the community. When we open the doors to our new facility, sometime next year, we are going to have almost four times the guest space we have now. We are also building five new dolphin pools. Currently, between all our facilities we have about 985,000 gallons of water, and these five new dolphin pools will add another million and a half gallons. We are really ramping up our ability to rescue more animals and provide a better living environment for our dolphins, as well as drastically improve the guest experience.

How much of an adverse effect did last year’s red tide have on the region? 

A year or so ago when the red tide came through the region, it had an extremely adverse effect on the local economy. We should commend Pinellas County because they tried to get in front of this issue by hiring boats to collect the dead fish and debris offshore before it ever hit the beaches. Our city was out there at 4:30 in the morning raking the beaches to make sure that tourism was not too badly impacted by it. While we were impacted somewhat, it could have been a lot worse. That red tide probably resulted from the runoff from storm water and other waste that goes into our waterways. This is damaging not only to the water environment itself, but to the tourism sector and the local economy, so human impact should always be something that we are conscious of. 

How can Clearwater Beach maintain its title as No. 1 beach in the nation? 

We need to focus on maintaining our recognition as the No. 1 beach in the nation, and we can’t accomplish this by just promoting ourselves as No. 1. The mission now is to make us the No. 1 beach because we are ocean friendly. We can do this by eliminating trash and doing things like stopping the use of single-use plastics. At the aquarium, we have gotten rid of all plastic bottles. Our water bottles now are all biodegradable and our spoons are all made of bamboo as opposed to plastic. We are trying to be an example of an environmentally responsible organization, and teaching people the right way to live in a model of environmental sustainability. 


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Spotlight On: Courtney Orr, Ybor Development Manager, Ybor City Development Corporation

Spotlight On: Courtney Orr, Ybor Development Manager, Ybor City Development Corporation

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 — Founded in the late 1800s, Ybor City is not only a staple in the Tampa Bay region but in the entire state of Florida. While it is not geographically large, Tampa Bay’s National Historic Landmark District has quite a large economic impact on the region. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Courtney Orr, the Ybor development manager for Ybor City Development Corporation, who discussed the impact of changing demographics on the district, respecting Ybor City’s history in light of ongoing development and the vital role young professionals play in the future of Ybor. 


How have the changing demographics of the region impacted Ybor City? 

The dynamics of Ybor City are shifting as we see an increase in the residential population, office users and one-of-a-kind restaurants and retailers. What’s most notable though is the influx of residents wanting to call Tampa’s National Historic Landmark home. Ybor has long been known strictly as an entertainment district and that mindset is changing with the current progressive shift underway. 

How are you working to improve Ybor City for the future while still respecting its history? 

Safeguarding Ybor’s historic features and history, especially the cigar industry from which Ybor City was built, is fundamental to the neighborhood’s success. The city of Tampa’s Barrio Latino Commission provides oversight to historic preservation by reviewing all development projects to ensure Ybor’s charm stays intact. We participate by offering a commercial facade grant to inspire historic preservation. This grant, along with other separate ones we offer, has made a tremendous difference throughout the historic neighborhood. Altogether, it helps breed additional private investment that enhances the district and ultimately will forever maintain Ybor’s charm.

Fortunately, Ybor draws very unique restaurant concepts here. Copper Shaker is one example of a successful restaurant opening its second location on 7th Avenue by the end of the year. New establishments like it preserve Ybor’s distinct vibe and with all the new residential development online, retailers are sure to follow.

What role do young professionals play in the development of Ybor City? 

Young professionals play a big role in the overall Ybor scene. They love the area’s walkability and many are willing to forgo their cars. They tend to favor smaller living quarters, if it guarantees them a certain quality of life in a stimulating neighborhood. As more young professionals move in so will office users to gain access to that creative talent, not to mention to enjoy all that Ybor has to offer too.


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Spotlight On: Daniels Ikajevs, Chairman, The Ring Workspaces

Spotlight On: Daniels Ikajevs, Chairman, The Ring Workspaces

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 — As the need for office space continues unabated, innovative solutions like coworking spaces are rising to fill the gap. One such coworking space is The Ring, which is a state-of-the-art co-working space with an emphasis on health and wellness. It is based in Downtown Clearwater. The Ring held its grand opening on April 26 and is home to over 70 companies across the Tampa Bay area, with about 110 people coming to the space on a daily basis. Invest: spoke with Daniels Ikajevs, chairman of The Ring Workspaces, about his innovative approach to office space, its collaboration with Harvard University and why Clearwater is the perfect location for The Ring Workspaces. 

Why was it important to construct The Ring to WELL standards? 

WELL standards are still fairly new, but they are becoming more commonplace. There is some similarity with LEED building standards, but WELL is more human-centric, and it looks at what is important for people inside the physical space, such as quality of the air, nutrition inside the space, access to daylight, biophilia and other health and wellness-related aspects. It also focuses on everything that LEED emphasizes, like quality of the materials, energy efficiency, and so forth. There is only one WELL-certified co-working space in the world and that is in Boston. We are in the process of getting our certification, and unlike in Boston where they have silver-level certification, we are going for the platinum level. 

What are some ways The Ring is working to help promote and foster the startup and tech ecosystem in the region? 

One of the ways we are doing this is through a collaboration The Ring entered with Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health to pilot their innovation and sustainable technology program in Tampa Bay. This will be the first U.S.-based location for this program. It will happen over the course of two years, and will consist of a first and second round in which the university professors will teach young startups how to bring their ideas into reality. They will provide a blueprint on what investors are looking for when they go out and try to raise money. At the end of the program, people who are successful in funding their ideas will receive a certificate of completion from Harvard University T.H Chan School of Public Health. 

How is Clearwater the perfect match for a coworking space like The Ring?

When we were looking at locations for The Ring, we looked at what makes Clearwater a more attractive market for startups. Clearwater offers lower real estate costs in comparison to similar Tampa and St. Petersburg markets. We are geared more toward the startup culture, and because the cost of doing business in Clearwater is less than anywhere else in Tampa Bay, we thought we could use this environment to attract more startups. As a startup you try to save money every step of the way until you reach the maturity stage of the business, so real estate is one of the biggest values that Clearwater can offer. The overall business environment in Clearwater is also in line with the four principles of The Ring, which are health, innovation, sustainability and productivity.

What does the future of coworking spaces look like? 

Coworking spaces will continue on an upward trend, especially as more startups emerge all around the Tampa Bay region. In this fast-moving business environment it is very difficult for these startups to predict the amount of space they will need in the near future, so coworking spaces like The Ring that offer flexible memberships where these businesses can upgrade or downgrade with ease are a huge benefit. Flexibility is key for startups, which is why big players in the coworking space, like Spaces, are expanding quickly to address the growing demand. It will also be interesting to see how the coworking concept works in a down market, as this has not been properly tested yet. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a down market in real estate in the near future, so we will pay special attention to see how this market adjusts and operates when this happens. 


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