Harvard Business Review defines coworking spaces as “membership-based work spaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting.” (Spreitzer) I wanted to see for myself what a coworking environment was like and how entrepreneurs are using them. Coworking spaces offer monthly memberships for drop-ins, meaning there is always a space for you to use but you are not locked into a long-term lease. They often offer larger offices, suites, and whole floors if needed and those options require leases. There may be a host of amenities depending on the coworking space: free Wi-Fi and coffee, printing, use of a gym, private meeting space, free event space, and monthly member events.
Packard Place is located two blocks from the Charlotte Knights BB&T Ballpark, four blocks from the Panther stadium and a block from Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte. It opened in 2010 and is a small building compared to the towering high rises surrounding it. Yet at 89,000 plus square feet it plays an important role for entrepreneurs and business people living in and visiting Charlotte.
“Packard Place is the hub of like-minded entrepreneurs sharing skills and business opportunities in Charlotte. Serving as a community center for entrepreneurial activity in the heart of the city, it allows access to technology, education and hands-on assistance to help business partners and start-ups design, build, market, and deliver innovation and solutions.” (Packard Place)
Yesterday afternoon I met with Evan Gardin, the Property and Leasing manager of the building, and I toured the space. Packard Place was built in 1928 as a showroom for Packard cars. The founders of Packard Place, Dan and Sara Roselli, decided to keep the name as Packard himself was an entrepreneur. The first thing I noticed was the coffee shop Not Just Coffee (another entrepreneurial venture that will soon be opening a fourth location) as I rounded the corner to enter the building. I like this place already.
Upon entering the building and on the wall to the left are the logos of several companies that have spent time using the space at Packard Place. In the photo above, I was unable to fit all the companies that have passed through the doors of Packard Place. Many of them have the signatures of the founders and all are still operating.
To the right is a wide-open space where Evan and I met and spoke about the different spaces available for entrepreneurs. The space where we were sitting is often used by individuals dropping in for a day or more and there are more than 45 coworking desks. All the desks and chairs are mobile to set up any configuration users may need. This area which is called “The Garage” is available for rental to the public. I saw one group and a few individuals working, not surprising it was not too busy on a Friday afternoon at 4. Their busiest day is Monday. Coworking events are held in this room and members are given access to use this space for one event a month with no charge for the space. Evan said flexibility is one of the main reasons Packard Place brings in people. Although the building is only staffed Monday through Friday, members have 24/7 access. He has had requests and inquiries from as far away as the United Kingdom.
The building has five floors and we toured the second floor. As we headed there, we passed a life-size whiteboard calendar of monthly events. This included a pitch breakfast, an angel fund holding a monthly meeting, and any number of events. They hold over 300 events a year. I saw a variety of spaces available, such as small private offices, larger suites, and whole floors for companies needing more room for more people. Some of the larger spaces even had their own kitchenettes. One of the larger suites for ten to twenty people had a balcony filled with comfortable patio furniture. I did see a few people still in their offices but what I really noticed is how quiet the building seemed, even in the main area with the coworking desks. It was very peaceful. The building has lots of windows for those needing to see outside as well as interior spaces with no windows. Plus, the park is just a block away for a quick leg stretch, fresh air, and art to help inspire you.
Coworking may not be for everyone but for those who may have a need for more space or are feeling a bit isolated because of working alone all the time, it might be the right place. There are thousands of coworking spaces throughout the country. They offer different amenities and services and have different fees. They all offer tours so check one out today and see how they can help you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Burns, Hilary. “HQ Charlotte at Packard Place is One of the Largest Startup Hubs in the USA.”
Bizjournals.com, Charlotte Business Journal, 15 Sept. 2016, https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2016/09/15/hq-charlotte-at-packard-place-is-one-of-the.html
Gretchen Spreitzer, Peter Bacevice, Lyndon Garrett. “Why People Thrive in Coworking
Spaces.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Review, 6 Aug. 2015, hbr.org/2015/05/why-people-thrive-in-coworking-spaces.
Packard Place l Charlotte Coworking and Office Space, Packard Place, www.packard.place/space