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Common's Next Step: Its Biggest Location And First With Studios, One-Bedroom Apartments

Common Baltic, a co-living hybrid project in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Brooklyn co-living provider Common passed its one-year anniversary in October, and now that it's at the age when puppies stop growing, it's decided the time is right for a major growth spurt of its own.

The proving ground: the corner of 4th Avenue and Baltic Street in Boerum Hill, near Park Slope in Adam America Real Estate's ground-up development (above). Common, which raised $16M in venture capital this summer, and Adam America have launched a partnership in which Common will manage the whole building—even the retail leasing and maintenance—and turn it into its biggest, most ambitious co-living spot yet.

At Common Baltic, there will be 70 co-living beds, CEO Brad Hargreaves told Bisnow, plus 67 studios and one-bedroom apartments. The residents of the bigger apartments will have access to all of Common's community events, just more privacy (and higher rent). Hargreaves called it a hybrid.

"I think the hybrid building is a model for how developers may embrace co-living going forward," Hargreaves (below, left, next to Ollie CEO Chris Bledsoe) said. "We’ve seen developers who want to include co-living in their development as a way to generate higher returns in their developments and also to foster a sense of community."

In all of Common's current locations, common spaces like kitchens and bathrooms are shared among groups of residents, and Common has put efforts into fostering a true community, with events, potluck dinners and a "house leader" on each floor—a tenant who gets a rent discount in exchange for leading activities and engaging with his or her neighbors. It's an arrangement that has led observers to give Common and its counterparts the "adult dorm" label, right down to the RA.

Co-living executives Ollie CEO Chris Bledsoe and Common CEO Brad Hargreaves in 2016

Hargreaves said he's been engaged with Adam America co-founders Dvir Cohen Hoshen and Omri Sachs for the past year, and he was comfortable with their vision for the project and the future of apartment living. While there are no concrete plans for the next partnership, the door is wide open.

"I don’t think either Adam America or Common are doing this just to do it in one building," Hargreaves said. "I think this is a great way for us both to dip our toes in the water of working together."

The co-living units and apartments will mingle on each floor, and the eight-story building will be divided into eight communities. Common has found that developing a community of 15 to 20 people is feasible and replicable. Trying to make 150 residents all friends with each other isn't feasible.

By the end of the summer, Hargreaves said he expects to know if this venture is a success. Demand won't be a problem: Common has received 12,000 applications for the 120 rooms in its portfolio.

The first move-ins are scheduled for late January, and the building is expected to fill up by April. Common leases buildings floor-by-floor to create critical masses of people in their communities. Baltic is also the first Common location in which all residents will be on 12-month leases, a key not only for fostering community, but in cementing partnerships with risk-averse landlords and lenders.

"It’s really about being able to foster community in a building like this," Hargreaves said. "We’re worried about if this is a common home. Do people say 'Hi' in the elevator, interact with each other? We want to do away with the awkward pauses."

Hargreaves said Common measures its users' "net-promoter score," which is a way startups track their engagement, but isn't a common data point for real estate yet. If residents are happy, Common will know and look to expand.