Working Together

Andrew Howard headed into The Hive.

Andrew Howard lives directly behind The Hive. It was his idea to transform the under-used building on Fort Worth Avenue into a co-working space. Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Co-working is growing in popularity, and our neighborhood is in on the trend

Working from home sounds great. Cooking a hot breakfast, staying in your pajamas all day, running a load of laundry at lunchtime. But too many hours in sweatpants with little adult interaction can be less than motivating and even a little sad.

Attorney Jennifer Bryan liked working from home, but she found it difficult to focus on work once her children arrived home from school around 3 p.m. each day.

“I needed my own space,” she says.

Bryan is one of a growing number of people worldwide who opts for co-working. She rents a space for her practice, JB Law, at The Hive, a co-working space on Fort Worth Avenue, which opened about a year ago. A new co-working space in our neighborhood, the Kessler Co-op, is expected to open next month.

There are about 1,800 co-working spaces worldwide, according to deskmag.com, which keeps track of trends and statistics in co-working. And the number of co-working spaces worldwide doubled in the year ending August 2012, the website reports. Deskmag.com counted 684 co-working spaces in the United States.

Kessler Theater owner Edwin Cabaniss says that when a call-center tenant moved out of a 2,500-square-foot space on the West Davis side of his building, he tried to think of what the best use of that space would be.

A co-working space is like a cross between a Wi-Fi coffee shop and an executive suite, he says. It’s more professional than a coffee shop, and it’s less formal and more affordable than a Downtown executive suite, he says.

Oak Cliff is home to a lot of creative professionals who have found themselves working as independent contractors since the recession, Cabaniss says. He expects the Kessler Co-op to appeal to professionals who already live in the neighborhood.

“I’m not marketing this to the businessman from Scottsdale that needs a place to land in Dallas,” he says. “It’s for someone who is working from home now and wants to be part of a creative community.”

The Kessler Co-op, which is part of the original movie theater, will offer super high-speed Internet, conference rooms, mailing addresses, cable TV, printers and scanners, and “all the things you need to function as a business,” Cabaniss says.

While the Kessler was under construction, Cabaniss worked from home himself.

“Working from home makes it hard to turn work off” at the end of the day, he says.

Tenants of The Hive say co-working is not just about having a place to work; it’s about community.

Monkey Tag, an upstart marketing firm, was among the first to lease a space at The Hive last year. The firm’s owners, Anthony Bearden and Gary Pedroza, don’t live in Oak Cliff, but they were drawn to our neighborhood’s creative environment.

“There are so many businesses that are just getting off the ground here, and we wanted to be a part of that,” Bearden says.

They already had a couple of big clients, Samsung and a commercial real estate firm, but they’ve added a few upstarts, such as Spokes pedicabs, through their connections at The Hive.

“There’s a different mindset and another vibe,” Bearden says. “We want to engage with people on a friendly level and do business over a beer.”

The Hive building is directly behind Andrew Howard’s house. When real estate developer Monte Anderson bought the building, Howard came to him with the co-working idea.

“I wanted an office because we had just started the Better Block, and we were kind of roaming around,” he says.

The idea was an immediate hit. All of The Hive’s six office spaces, plus an Airstream trailer finished out as office space, were leased in the first week it opened.

The Hive also provides space for community meetings. The Fort Worth Avenue Development Group and the Kings Highway Neighborhood Association hold their monthly meetings there, for example.

The Kessler Co-op also will provide space for community meetings, Cabaniss says.

“When we opened the Kessler, we planned for it to be a community meeting place,” he says.

And it still is. But it isn’t always possible to accommodate everyone who wants to meet there. Neighborhood groups will be able to meet after office hours in the Kessler Co-op, and they can bring their own wine and beer. That’s not possible inside the theater, which has a liquor license, Cabaniss says.

The Kessler also is planning networking mixers and occasional guest speakers. Back at The Hive, Howard is working on plans to expand. Demand is so high for co-working space there that he would like to open a second location closer to the Bishop Arts District.

“It’s a good place to be creative,” says Bearden of Monkey Tag, which rents the Airstream at The Hive. “We don’t really need more than this. It’s an awesome little place and a great location for not much money.”

The Hive, 2139 Fort Worth Ave., 972.283.1111, oakcliffhive.com

Rates: A front office is now available for $600 a month, which includes electricity, Internet, coffee, printing, scanning, fax, coffee and beer. The drop-in rate is $25 a day with a 10 percent discount from Bike Friendly Oak Cliff if you ride a bike to work.

The Kessler Co-op, 1230 W. Davis, 214.272.8346 

Rates: $300 a month for a permanent desk; $200 a month for access to the workspaces with no permanent desk; rates haven’t been set for permanent offices or drop-ins. Rent at the Kessler includes utilities, office services and other amenities.


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