Co-working spaces planned for Arts Block in Greenfield

  • The Arts Block, in background, overlooks the Greenfield Town Common in the heart of downtown.

For the Gazette
Sunday, September 11, 2016

GREENFIELD — Imagine a sunny, third-floor office space with bar seating and comfortable chairs and tables overlooking downtown Greenfield, where entrepreneurs, freelancers, lawyers and students can work side-by-side in a common area.

That’s what Jeff Sauser, a planner and urban designer, and Jeremy Goldsher, co-manager of The Arts Block, are in the process of developing in that building on the corner of Main Street and Court Square. When Greenspace CoLab opens later this year, it will be the town’s first co-working space, offering professionals from across the region a place to collaborate with others while fostering a creative economy.

Co-working spaces are non-traditional office setups that give individuals a place to work independently while also supporting collaboration. Greenspace will provide basics like internet, utilities and coffee, as well as conference rooms, optional private offices and more. The environment will be accessible and inclusive, according to Sauser and Goldsher, with the goal of attracting a wide variety of members — from flannel-clad young professionals working on MacBook Pros to older entrepreneurs.

“People can operate independently and yet have access to traditional office supplies and office resources, and also because it’s a hotbed just by its nature of creative people, entrepreneurs, freelancers, whatever it might be, there’s all sorts of chance encounters that can happen,” Sauser said.

Greenspace will operate on a tiered membership system, with at least three monthly options available. Although details have not been finalized yet, Sauser and Goldsher said memberships will likely include open seating in the common area, dedicated desks with lockable storage, and private offices. Rates are expected to range from $100 to $350 per month, depending on the plan.

A daily pass option may also be added, and Goldsher said the space will also offer small studios to teams, such as a two or three-person technology startup, or a small law firm. Conference rooms will be available for local businesses to book by the hour.

“Frankly, it’s an impressive space and this is an impressive building, so hopefully people will feel proud to bring their partners and clients here,” Sauser said.

Mentors session

Goldsher and Sauser decided to collaborate on the project after meeting at a Valley Venture Mentors session at The Arts Block. Both had worked all over the country and realized they had a shared mission around economic development and fostering the creative economy. Co-working spaces, they said, are a great way of helping to accomplish that.

“It’s something that’s attractive both to first-time professionals as well as seasoned veterans looking for a change of pace, and it was something that I’d kind of been researching on my own,” Goldsher said. “When I met Jeff, it was able to come together in a really beautiful way.”

Sauser said the process is really a grassroots effort, and input from Greenspace’s first members will significantly help to shape the way the space develops. Because the business needs a critical mass to get off the ground, discounts will be offered to initial members. He added Greenspace will likely open right around the same time as the new courthouse, serving as a good workspace for lawyers who may only be in Greenfield a couple of times per week.

With downtown Greenfield’s recent designation as the Crossroads Cultural District by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Sauser said the project is coming at a good time. There’s a lot of momentum toward building the town as a cultural destination, he said, which goes hand-in-hand with innovation.

“If Greenfield wants to attract or retain (the younger) generation, it needs to be the type of place where people can imagine growing into the professional they want to be,” he said. “We think that this is one more ingredient in the complete holistic town that Greenfield needs to be to accomplish a lot of economic development.”

Goldsher added that through the project, he hopes to incorporate other spaces within the Arts Block building, and eventually expand throughout the rest of Greenfield.

“The idea of being able to go in and work with your friends who are in a completely different sector, finish the work day and then have a beer downstairs while watching some live music is just totally different from anything else that’s in this current landscape,” he said. “The conversations that people are going to start in here will hopefully continue outside onto more park benches, more bike racks, things like that. We just hope to see more people milling around in the center of Greenfield, sharing ideas.”

Construction on Greenspace CoLab is expected to begin this fall.

More information is available online at greenspacecolab.com.