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Photo via Andy Rebele.
A new “Hacker House” is opening near the University of Washington campus this month. Photo via Andy Rebele.

If you’re an entrepreneur, scientist, coder, maker, or innovator that wants to live in a likeminded community near the University of Washington, there’s a new option available for you.

Seattle startup veteran Andy Rebele this week inked a long-term lease on a triplex owned by the UW where he’ll welcome forward-thinking folks who want to live with interesting people.

Rebele helps run three other similar “hacker houses” around Seattle that are catered to the creative/hacker/entrepreneur type who are trying to live, breath and eat the startup life.

Pure Watercraft founder Andy Rebele.
Andy Rebele.

But his newest spot is unique for a few reasons, namely because of its location. The “Romero House,” as it is called for now, is just two blocks from Startup Hall, a new 20,000-square-foot space occupied by the Techstars Seattle incubator, the Founder’s Co-op venture capital firm, and other entrepreneurs renting office space in an old UW law school building. It’s also in the University District, a neighborhood that the UW and City of Seattle are trying to turn into an innovation hub that attracts tech talent and startups.

“This building is in the right location and is the right type of building for what we do,” Rebele said.

Rebele, who opened the first “Hacker House” in 2013, noted that he likes how the UW wants to bring Seattle’s startup scene to the U-District and thinks the “Romero House” fits right in with that mission.

“UW has one of the top computer science departments in the country — as well as many other leading research departments — and keeping such startup activity near campus helps foster a more entrepreneurial environment on campus,” he explained. “Now, adding a hacker house nearby fills a gap and makes Seattle more competitive with other startup-oriented cities.”

Inside Startup Hall.
Inside Startup Hall.

The furnished house itself is a triplex, with a work space, living space, and kitchen in each unit, along with a fourth floor work/study space and outdoor brick deck. There is room for about 20 occupants, including a house captain who will manage the place for guests that also have access to free loaner bikes and skateboards, kitchen tools, and laundry machines.

Rebele, who rents out similar houses in Capitol Hill and near Gas Works Park, said opening a place near Startup Hall and the UW was an “amazing opportunity.”

“There is a lot of housing near UW, including apartments, shared houses, and Apodments, but nothing like what we do,” Rebele said. “Our hackers, coders, and scientists are interested in living with interesting people, and accomplishing great things in their professional lives. Many come to town not knowing anyone, and the day they show up in one of our houses, they’re connected with people with whom they have something important in common.”

Vikram Jandhyala.
Vikram Jandhyala.

Vikram Jandhyala, Vice Provost for Innovation at the UW’s CoMotion office, called the house a “very cool idea” that fits in with how the university wants to make its neighborhood an “innovation district.”

“We want this area to be an innovation district where both the UW and the community can partner in innovative partnerships, programs, and spaces to build a real hub for what we call ‘inclusive innovation’ with startups, industry connections, and community connections,” Jandhyala said. “With the Light Rail coming to the U-District, we want to help transform the area while helping keep its character and inclusivity. Programs like the Hacker House, Startup Hall, industry and foundation partners, and Urban@UW all are related to this mission of inclusive innovation.”

Rebele and his house captain are accepting applications now for the new house — there are daily, weekly, and monthly rates that generally go for about $260 per week or $800 per month. Those interested in applying for the Romero House can do so here.

Rebele noted that his other locations, which have been full all summer long, have a different mix of guests, depending on location. For example, the Capitol Hill house has more Amazon and Fred Hutchinson workers, while the spot near Gas Works Park has employees from the UW Medical Center, Adobe, and Tableau.

UW“The consistent thing between all locations is that we focus on guests who bring something interesting to share with the others,” he said. “They can be scientists, coders, entrepreneurs, makers, etc., but they have to be ready to present something interesting to the other guests.”

Rebele said he makes money off rent payments when the houses are at full capacity, but flexible start/end dates and amenities provided like furniture and a house captain can cut into profitability.

For Rebele, an angel investor who also runs a startup that builds electric motorboats, running these houses isn’t really about the revenue.

“Taking into account all the costs of these services provided to guests, and the seasonality, we do make money, but not a lot, but that’s fine,” he said. “We make a little money and we help Seattle’s startup ecosystem. And it’s a really fun venture to run, helping to re-invent housing in a way that contributes to the community, the environment, and the people who spend time living there.”

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