Co-working companies now take up close to 950,000 square feet of office space in Seattle and on the Eastside — the equivalent of the 44-story U.S. Bank Centre in downtown Seattle — and that number is expected to keep rising in a sign of the growing demand for flexible workspaces.
According to information from real estate brokerage Colliers International, co-working spaces account for 648,000 square feet in Seattle and another 301,000 on the Eastside.
Co-working spaces appeal to startups because they provide flexibility for small companies that don’t often know what their future employment and office needs will be.
But co-working remains a very small part of the Seattle office market, according to Colliers. In the city it makes up only 1.4 percent of total occupied office space, while on the Eastside it is only 0.9 percent.
WeWork is leading the growing co-working trend, which includes at least 100 companies, Bobby Shanahan, senior research associate at Colliers’ Bellevue office wrote in a recent report. In March, WeWork reportedly raised $780 million in venture funding at a $16 billion valuation. WeWork says it has more than 55,000 members worldwide.
WeWork already has three locations in Seattle — 500 Yale in South Lake Union, Westlake Tower downtown and Holyoke Building in Pioneer Square. WeWork is looking at space on both sides of Lake Washington, and it could be trying to add at least four new spaces, Shanahan wrote.
WeWork has its eye on Martin Selig Real Estate’s planned 36-story tower at Third and Lenora in Belltown for co-working spaces and its new WeLive residential concept. It is also rumored to be interested in 70,000 square feet in another Selig office project at 15th and Market in Ballard.
On the Eastside, WeWork has reportedly leased 81,500 square feet at Kemper Development Co.’s Lincoln Square expansion project in downtown Bellevue.
If WeWork takes down all that space, it will become the biggest co-working space provider in Seattle and the second biggest on the Eastside. For now, Regus, a much older company that caters to executives at professional service firms rather than tech companies, provides the most space on either side of the lake. It has 197,000 square feet in nine buildings in Seattle and another 178,000 square feet in eight buildings on the Eastside.
Regus says it occupies more than 43 million square feet in 2,600 locations in 106 countries. It is based in Luxembourg and was founded in 1989.
Other companies are buying entire buildings and turning them into co-working spaces.
Last year, Level Office purchased the historic six-story Pioneer Building at 606 First Ave. in Pioneer Square and turned the 72,000-square-foot structure into co-working space and private office suites. Level Office also has locations in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville and Charlotte
Earlier in 2015, Denver-based Galvanize opened a 71,000 square foot co-working space and startup campus in Pioneer Square, just a few blocks away from the new space operated by Level Office.
Worldwide, the co-working trend shows no signs of slowing. In 2015, there were 7,800 co-working spaces, according to a survey Shanahan cited from online co-working magazine Deskmag. In 2017, that number if expected to increase to 12,700. In that same time frame, the number of members is expected to rise from 510,000 nationwide to 1.03 million.
You can check out all the co-working spaces in the Seattle region here.