Co-sharing office space takes over 10 floors in Calgary downtown towers

Calgary is filling some of its vacant downtown office space as two co-sharing locations launched Friday to cater to entrepreneurs and enterprise-sized businesses.

WeWork, the global co-sharing company, caters to small and large businesses

WeWork Canada offers innovative space solutions to entrepreneurs who don't want to deal with buying or leasing property. (Jamie Geddes)

Calgary is filling some of its vacant downtown office space as two co-sharing locations launched Friday to cater to entrepreneurs and enterprise-sized businesses.

WeWork, an international co-working company, says its two Calgary locations — in The Edison and Stephen Avenue Place towers — will have a total of more than 141,000 square feet over 10 floors between the two highrises.

WeWork Canada vice-president Stephen Tapp said the company is excited to bring the space to Calgary and to participate in the city's transformation and growth.

"These two buildings became available and we looked at them and said, 'Hey, listen, this is a great opportunity for us to form a cluster here in Calgary like we do in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver … and create an environment where early-stage companies and single-purpose entrepreneurs can mingle and work in a community with big and medium-size and enterprise-size businesses,'" he said.

WeWork Canada vice-president Stephen Tapp says the company wanted to be a part of the next phase of Calgary. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

Tapp said a membership provides innovative space solutions without having to worry about real estate, as well as fully built out, highly designed spaces that allow companies to plug in and play.

The WeWork space in The Edison, at 150 Ninth Ave. S.W., will specifically catered to smaller entrepreneurs who want to work in a community environment.

The space in Stephen Avenue Place, at 700 Second St. S.W., is better suited for medium- and larger-sized businesses models, Tapp says.

Co-sharing space in The Edison, pictured above, caters to small businesses. (Jamie Geddes)

"These two buildings represent the opportunity to service a wide range of business interests in the city," said Tapp.

The WeWork vice-president says memberships also gives Calgarians opportunities to access WeWork in over 140 cities around the world, as well as attend networking events and lunch-and-learns.

"We just want to be the platform that creates this level of collaboration between companies so that they can learn from one another." 

Filling empty office space

The global company has had its share of challenges this past year after a failed IPO and a new CEO but city officials are confident about the firm's new direction. 

The company was at one time valued at $47 billion US but after investor skepticism and negative publicity, that number dropped by tens of billions. 

"Certainly this company has had a few stumbles, but I know that they're moving forward in a way that is really true to the values of helping small businesses grow," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

He says that entrepreneurs and innovators will now have more flexible options for office space in the city — in turn filling up empty space downtown.

"[The Edison] is a building that was largely empty in the depths of the economic downturn that we're facing and it's now full," he said.

The mayor says Calgary has to find ways to attract different kinds of businesses to the downtown district. (Jamie Geddes)

"It's full of 'new economy' companies, it's full of tech companies, it's full of people who are creating the new Calgary economy."

He says vacant space downtown can't be filled the way it used to be filled.

"WeWork is a great example of flexible co-working space where people who never thought they could afford to have a downtown location can actually come at times that suit them," he said.

Court Ellingson with Calgary Economic Development notes that WeWork lines up with the direction Calgary's economy is moving in. 

"Calgary isn't your mom and dad's Calgary. Calgary is on a new path, and WeWork is an expression of that new path," he said.

"Calgary is a city that's embracing technological change and it's a city that's embracing different kinds of business.… If WeWork didn't see that in our city, they wouldn't be here." 

Both Nenshi and Ellingson are hoping to make more announcements on companies coming to Calgary in the coming months.

With files from Julie Debeljak


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