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Coworking Companies Bristle At CBRE's Decision To Enter Their Domain

CBRE was planning on making waves with the introduction of its own coworking service, but some are crashing back.

Knotel CEO Amol Sarva

After the brokerage giant announced the launch of Hana, a new branch of the company to operate flexible office and meeting space in partnerships with office landlords, at least two coworking companies stated their intentions to sever ties with CBRE's brokerage division, Crain's New York Business reports.

"Going forward, I see no reason to give my business to CBRE," Knotel co-founder Amol Sarva told Crain's. "If they want to open a shingle that competes with me, I can do business with other brokers. They're not going to represent us."

New York-based flexible office space provider Knotel operates over 100 "on-demand headquarters" in the city approaching a footprint of 2M SF, and had previously worked frequently with CBRE to secure leases with office landlords, according to Crain's. Its presence in the New York office market pales in comparison with industry leader WeWork, which has not yet commented on the matter.

Also refusing to work with CBRE going forward is Bond Collective, a smaller operator with six locations in the city that had not previously retained CBRE's brokerage services. The Yard, which operates locations in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia, will not sever ties with CBRE, but founder Morris Levy was critical of the Hana decision in comments to Crain's.

WeWork, Knotel and most other coworking providers use basic leases to secure their space in office buildings; CBRE plans on entering into revenue-sharing partnerships with landlords. This model is not without precedent, as Convene's flexible space offering uses a similar model in some cases.