The future of work: Venture X Holyoke opens near Holyoke Mall

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  • Participants at a Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield luncheon gather in the conference room at Venture X Holyoke where Chicopee Industrial Contractors President and CEO Carol Campbell, at head of table, was the featured speaker on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ned Barowsky, owner of Venture X Holyoke, leads a tour of the new workspace including the cafe, seen here. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Participants at a Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield luncheon with featured speaker Carol Campbell, left, of Amherst chat in the lounge and cafe of the Venture X Holyoke workspace before meeting in the conference room on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ned Barowsky, owner of Venture X Holyoke, leads a tour of the new workspace, which includes a podcast production studio, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carol Campbell, left, of Amherst, President and CEO of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, welcomes participants to a Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield luncheon at Venture X Holyoke, where she was the featured speaker, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ned Barowsky, owner of Venture X Holyoke, is the fourth generation of his family to grow up in Holyoke. Photographed in his office as he met with the Gazette on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, to discuss the new workspace he created on Lower Westfield Road. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 5:00:05 PM

HOLYOKE — On any given day at the city’s newest coworking space, Venture X Holyoke, counselors and physical therapists are meeting with patients, advertising and marketing specialists are serving clients, and entrepreneurs are saving money on office space as they build their businesses.

The scene is exactly what Venture X’s owner envisioned when he opened the two-story coworking space earlier this month, not far from the Holyoke Mall at 98 Lower Westfield Road.

“Right off the highway here, you have people who don’t have to sign” expensive long-term leases for office space, said owner Ned Barowsky, a commercial real estate developer and fourth-generation Holyoker. “You’d be shocked how busy the place can be, and how people network with each other.”

The 16,000-square-foot space features 65 furnished private offices for one to 10 people. Members have access to a receptionist, conference rooms, IT security, mailboxes, a copy center, a shredding service, a worker lounge and cafe, and other amenities.

Podcast production studios are available, complete with microphones and other equipment, for rent by the hour. Parking is free for members, and there are roughly 300 spaces.

Venture X Holyoke held a soft opening in the spring and a grand opening earlier this month.

The space was built out during the COVID-19 pandemic, with special attention given to the installation of an air filtration system. Barowsky, owner of Venture X Holyoke as well as the building it occupies, said the high-tech system uses seven rooftop units that leave the air “almost pure.”

The bathrooms use touchless toilets, sinks and hand dryers. Keyless, app-based door entry systems are used to get into Venture X Holyoke and then for each office.

Common phone rooms and conference rooms are cleaned after each use; the location uses disposable coffee cups and water bottles, and seating in common areas is arranged to allow for social distancing. Shared desks are segmented by plexiglass dividers.

Barowsky said that after Pier 1 Imports, Kaoud Oriental Rugs and Mattress Firm all left the space, his real estate brokers started looking for new retail clients. He said they were already getting “nowhere” when the economy tanked due to the pandemic.

“When COVID hit a year and a half ago, I said, ‘That’s it. These guys will never find anybody now,’” he said. “I started looking into different aspects of what I could do, and coworking kept coming up.”

Private office space starts at $595 per month, while a shared desk starts at $249 per month. A four-person meeting room rents for $40 per hour; a 20-person meeting room goes for $90 per hour.

The campaign of William “Billy” Glidden, one of seven mayoral candidates who ran in Tuesday’s preliminary election, is renting office space at Venture X. In August, the campaign spent $3,071.75 on a security deposit and four months’ rent, according to state campaign finance records.

At the moment, the space is about 30% occupied. Members include therapists, a health and beauty salon, two marketing firms, a physical therapy practice, and more public businesses.

The space has hosted several corporate events and retreats. On Sept. 21, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield held its Leadership Luncheon in a Venture X Holyoke conference room.

Venture X Holyoke is running a promotion — 50% off the regular membership price for commitments of at least three months — as it tries to fill the remaining space. The promotion ends on Dec. 31, or after 50 new members have signed up for it, whichever comes first.

Some of the members, Barowsky said, are people who started working from home during the pandemic and found it too challenging, so they paid out-of-pocket to rent one-person offices. Virtual offices are also available, which allow members who work from home to receive business mail at Venture X Holyoke and rent conference and meeting rooms on a short-term basis.

“This is a contribution to the city,” Barowsky said. “They’re trying to rehab all these old factory buildings downtown … but there was nothing up here in the Ingleside area. Nobody is offering all the amenities that we have to offer.”

According to Venture X, the global company’s membership includes entrepreneurs, creative professionals, freelancers, remote workers, startups, nonprofits, small businesses and teams from Fortune 500 companies.

Venture X has locations throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, with more planned in Europe and Central America. A second Massachusetts location is open in Marlborough.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.


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