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WeLive Reborn: WeWork Announces Third Location Of Co-Living Concept

WeLive in Crystal City

After an ambitious start on Wall Street and a yearlong dormancy, WeLive, the co-working division of $20B co-working giant WeWork, is building a third location from the ground up.

WeWork has partnered with Martin Selig Real Estate, one of Seattle's premier developers, to build a 36-story mixed-use development in the city's Belltown neighborhood. The project will be WeLive's largest to date, and the first time the concept will be in a ground-up development. It will be the first WeLive on the West Coast.

WeLive's New York City space and its second location in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., have a combined 400 apartments. They were built in retrofitted, previously vacant office buildings: 110 Wall St., owned by Rudin Management, and 2221 South Clark St. in Crystal City. WeWork partnered with Vornado, but the Manhattan-based REIT spun off its D.C. holdings and merged them with a local firm.

After WeLive Crystal City opened in June 2016, a WeWork executive said at Bisnow's national multifamily conference that its co-living concept was on pause until it could be "10 times better." The company had told investors it was planning 14 WeLives in 2017, but by last summer, it just had a third location planned for somewhere in Seattle. By the fall, those plans were scuttled.

In January, WeWork hired Brooklyn Bowl executive James Woods to lead WeLive, and as recently as May, he said the company was still tinkering with the concept and not ready to announce new locations.

“I would just say that we as a company want to take the time to refine this product and get it right,” Woods told Bisnow this spring.

This summer, WeWork feels comfortable enough with the product's update that it will be the dominant feature of the company's biggest project yet in terms of square footage. The co-living community will occupy 23 of the 36 stories in the tower, with a traditional WeWork space, retail and other uses on the other levels.

"Just steps from Pike Place Market and Seattle’s retail core, this one-of-a-kind project that brings shared workspace and community-based living into a single project is perfectly situated to serve Seattle’s growing innovative community,” Martin Selig Real Estate Managing Director Jordan Selig said in a release. 

WeWork said the project, which it is leasing from Martin Selig, will be complete in 2020, delivering its first West Coast WeLive to the city with the most active construction cranes in the country. Like the open WeLives, its residents, just like the workers in co-working spaces, will be called "members," and all utilities, internet, TV, cleaning services and other amenities are included in rent above average per-square-foot apartment rents.

Although WeWork pioneered the rapidly growing, and increasingly influential, co-working concept, Woods made a distinction in May between WeLive and other co-living concepts that more closely resemble dormitories or urban communes.

"I don’t want to speak to co-living," Woods said. "We think about this as a community-based apartment product, a place for people to live in a multifamily product that supports community, much like WeWork does."