Co-working spaces in downtown Lakeland like Catapult and My Office and More are about to get a new neighbor: Ohio-based co-working company COhatch, which announced this week it is opening three Tampa Bay-area locations.
After scouting communities in the greater Tampa area, COhatch picked Lakeland, West Tampa and St. Petersburg for its maiden voyage out of the Midwest. Particularly important for its sites, COhatch says, is the ability to walk to restaurants and venues — it strives for center-of-the-action locales.
In Lakeland, COhatch picked 211 E. Main Street in downtown Lakeland, next to Nineteen Sixty-One Latin fusion restaurant.
“When we saw the property on the square (Munn Park); it just ticked every single box in terms of the type of communities and buildings that we want to be in,” said John Watkins, co-principal at COhatch Regional Development Ventures.
The three Tampa-area additions will bring COhatch’s total number of locations open or under development to 25.
COhatch strives to find buildings for its co-working spaces that are suited to “adaptive re-use architecture,” or buildings that maintain their historic significance and features.
The 211 E. Main Street property — called the Skipper Building — was built in 1912, according to documents provided by Emily Foster, the city of Lakeland’s senior planner for historic preservation. The three-story building once housed Lakeland’s post office, along with the Elks Lodge and offices for the Chamber of Commerce.
The first and second floors will be occupied by COhatch in what was previously used for office space. The third floor remains office space with an existing tenant, said Jack Strollo with Broadway Realty Services, who handled the sale.
COhatch is planning to open for business in January 2022, joining the ranks of two other downtown co-working sites.
My Office and More is at the corner of Main Street and Tennessee Avenue one block west of COhatch. Catapult Lakeland is three blocks to the east at 502 E. Main St.
While Catapult endured a loss of clients as a result of the pandemic, Executive Director Christina Graham said, it has seen an influx of new entrepreneurs. It’s now surpassing its pre-COVID numbers, serving 190 entrepreneurs in fields such as technology and culinary.
Another co-working project, The Well, is under construction just north of downtown on Parker Street
“So you can see the flexible space offerings in the area are growing,” said Kate Lake, owner of My Office and More, which is at capacity. “Now that the commercial real estate market has been shaken up because of COVID, I think more people will be needing an alternative place to work. Not everyone is set up to work from home for an extended period of time.”
While Catapult focuses on start ups and My Office and More provides workspace solutions for established small businesses, COhatch brands themselves differently.
“We see ourselves as a town hall 2.0 community center, using co-working as a way to bring community together,” Watkins said.
The co-working space is family friendly, featuring amenities like air hockey and arcade games, to offer activities for kids so parents or guardians can concentrate on meetings and work.
“They’re going for a different group,” Lake said. “They’re really trying to hit a different part of the community. I love the fact that there’s something family-friendly coming to Lakeland.”
Co-working spaces are not a one-size-fits-all, Graham said. There’s room for varying services in the co-working market that serve to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of the community.
“We believe a rising tide lifts all boats,” Graham said. “We are excited to welcome COhatch to Lakeland.”