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Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden On Valuing Coworking In Mixed-Use Environments

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Midway is expanding its coworking offering from zero to three operators in CityCentre, a mixed-use development in West Houston. Midway is the largest coworking landlord in Houston, according to Madison Marquette.  

Coworking will account for 100K SF, about 16% of the overall office space in CityCentre, and Midway would have been comfortable going even higher: The sweet spot for how much space to lease to shared workspaces is 20%, Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden said.

Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden On Valuing Coworking In Mixed-Use Environments
Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden

Spaces, owned by global workspace provider IWG, formerly Regus; Life Time Work, a new venture by national wellness club Life Time; and FUSE Dynamic Workspace, a Dallas-based concept, will take 100K SF and open locations by early 2020. 

“Across the three platforms, we are creating the broadest, most diverse demand of coworking options in Houston,” he said. “Not all coworking is the same.”  

Each concept attracts a different user profile and social experience while also providing more flexibility to office tenants, he said. Demographics of the end users — such as the type of company, industry sector, age of the workers, coworking price point and the style of the build-out — will vary depending on the platform, Brinsden said.

Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden On Valuing Coworking In Mixed-Use Environments
An interior rendering of the first Life Time Work location in Ardmore, Pa.

Opening in June, Life Time Work will occupy 25K SF at CityCentre Five and market to its existing business-class fitness membership. Touting a professional build-out, the workspace will feature about 50 offices and shared workspaces, conference rooms and open meeting spaces. Many of the office memberships will include access to all of the Life Time athletic locations. 

Spaces, which is slated to deliver in the fourth quarter, will likely serve as flexible, project or short-term space for large corporate clients, which may have previously used the parent company IWG. The operator signed a lease for 60K SF of office space

FUSE, which is expected to open in Q1, will cater more to the startup community, Brinsden said. The design will be hospitality-centric with a creative build-out. Spanning two buildings connected by a bridge, the workspace will feature four outdoor terraces, 95 private offices, a coworking café and lounge, dedicated desks and conference space for up to 100 people. It will occupy former retail space on the second level near RA Sushi and The Escape Game. Construction begins this month.  

Brinsden said the most expensive platform for users is Life Time Work, then Spaces, followed by FUSE.

WeWork considered opening a location in CityCentre but required too much space, Brinsden said. The lease would have pushed CityCentre above the 20% threshold.

Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden On Valuing Coworking In Mixed-Use Environments
A rendering of Spaces CityCenter reception area

Coworking, which is more established in other markets, is picking up in popularity in Houston.

Coworking represents an idea of real estate as a service, Brinsden said. It serves as an incubator; as companies grow Midway can also address the long-term office needs. 

“We are providing people with access and use of real estate in a more flexible way,” he said. “This will be a continued trend in thinking of all real estate as a hospitality business, where it is about how we deliver the best, most flexible experience for any consumer.”

Midway is leading the coworking growth in the metro by bringing on more operators to its mixed-use environments across Houston. 

Last April, WeWork leased an 80K SF space at Jones on Main in Downtown Houston. Midway will also introduce Spaces at GreenStreet and Kirby Grove. Life Time Work is launching a facility at GreenStreet, along with a branded 50K SF fitness location.