Fast-growing co-working space WeWork is aiming to expand its footprint in Seattle in a big way, looking to bring its new WeLive co-living residential program to the Belltown neighborhood.
The company declined to provide details, and it’s not clear if the plan is final, but real estate sources said WeWork has its eye on Martin Selig’s planned 210,000 square foot Third & Lenora mixed-use building. WeWork also is rumored to be looking at about 70,000-square-feet of space in Seattle’s booming Ballard neighborhood at 15th and Market, another Selig project, according to a real estate source. And reports recently spread that WeWork was eyeing space in downtown Bellevue’s Lincoln Square.
Selig, the well known real estate developer, did not respond to requests for comment. Gina Phillips, who leads the Seattle operations for WeWork, said they are always on the lookout for “new opportunities and new communities,” but she added that “no new locations are confirmed for Seattle at this time.”
Real estate sources say the Belltown project includes dozens of residential units for WeLive, an ambitious and unique community that looks to change way entrepreneurs not only build their companies, but share their lives together. It’s unclear whether the new space in the 36-story Third & Lenora building will include WeWork’s traditional co-working space, or simply the new residential offering. Sources say WeWork is taking most of the space. (UPDATE: A source tells GeekWire that the building will include both a co-working space, and the residential component).
WeWork launched its WeLive communal living program in New York last month, saying that the shared living spaces build “upon community, flexibility, and a fundamental belief that we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.” WeLive — which touts community spaces, beds, towels, linens, high-speed Wi-Fi and all of the coffee, tea and beer you can drink— also is available in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C.
Guests in the furnished apartment spaces can rent for a day, a week, a month or a year. The apartments range in size from studios to 3 bedroom units. The residential program’s slogan: “Love your life.”
WeWork currently operates co-working spaces at three locations in Seattle: The original location in South Lake Union, as well as newer spaces in the Holyoke Building and Westlake Tower in downtown Seattle. It opened its third location in Westlake just five months ago, a 32,000 square foot space with room for 600 members.
Members of WeWork can rent a desk at the South Lake Union space for $375 per month, while an office goes for $550 per month. That location alone already has more than 1,000 members, with WeWork boasting 55,000 members worldwide.
Some entrepreneurs love the flexibility of WeWork, which is shaking up the traditional way that commercial real estate is sold.
Rahul Sood, the former Microsoft executive who now leads Seattle eSports startup Unikrn, has called the South Lake Union location home since his company got off the ground.
“They are totally disrupting the traditional real estate market,” said Sood, noting that the model works extremely well for startups which are unsure of their future growth plans. His company has grown from about six to 25 employees, continuing to expand at the South Lake Union location of WeWork. They’ve blown at walls, added offices and secured new conference rooms, all without the long-term commitments that sometimes penalize entrepreneurs in traditional real estate deals.
“That type of flexibility, you just don’t get in a traditional office space,” he said. “Being able to make quick decisions like that is amazing.”
Now, with WeLive, the company is focusing on residential real estate.
Sood said he’s also heard that WeLive is coming to Seattle. But he wasn’t sure where the space would be located.
While he loves WeWork’s South Lake Union location, he says WeLive is not right for him. “I need my own space,” he said with a laugh.
WeWork’s planned expansion at Third & Lenora comes during a big real estate boom in Seattle, one sparked by Amazon.com and other tech companies. The Third & Lenora location is just a few blocks away from Amazon’s new office buildings in downtown.
It also signals a huge bet on Seattle by WeWork, the eight-year-old New York-based company which in March reportedly raised $780 million in venture funding at a whopping $16 billion valuation. Dozens of co-working spaces have emerged in the Seattle area in recent years, including Impact Hub Cambia Grove, and ExtraSlice. (See a list and map of the spaces on GeekWire here).
According to a marketing flyer on Selig’s Web site, the Third & Lenora building is currently slated to open in the Spring of 2018.