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Bay Area Co-Working Boom Spreads Into New Cities, Neighborhoods

Oakland Office

The Bay Area’s entrepreneurship culture is providing fuel for rapid expansion among co-working providers. Both national and local providers have been expanding in San Francisco, Oakland and throughout the Bay Area and many locations are quickly filling up with members. 

WeWork General Manager of Northern California Elton Kwok

Startups, freelancers and large companies looking for satellite locations are forgoing paying sky-high office rents for short-term and flexible leasing terms often found at co-working locations. 

Oakland is emerging as a prime co-working location with WeWork opening its first Oakland location at the start of December. It joins a growing list of Oakland co-working providers such as The Port Workspaces, which has three Oakland locations at capacity, and Oakstop in downtown Oakland, which is considering expanding throughout Oakland as well.

The East Bay city is not the only place where co-working giant WeWork has been expanding. WeWork also has been rapidly adding locations in San Francisco, including Salesforce Tower, 44 Montgomery and Jackson Square.

In the last few months, WeWork has added 3,000 members in San Francisco, according to WeWork General Manager for Northern California Elton Kwok. WeWork also has sites in Berkeley and San Jose. It now has 14 Bay Area locations.

For WeWork, its expansion is all about providing a platform for budding companies and enterprises to grow and become a larger part of a business ecosystem.

 “The Bay Area is the center of innovation and entrepreneurship. A lot of ideas are born in the Bay,” Kwok said.

WeWork decided to move into Oakland after existing members said they wanted to grow their businesses in Oakland. Kwok said he has already had interest from local businesses and startups from the area wanting to build a space in Oakland.

The Oakland WeWork space at 1111 Broadway will take up three and a half floors and is adjacent to the 12th Street BART station. WeWork also partnered with local artists to provide distinct artwork, Kwok said.

The co-working giant’s next big project will be designing a space in Salesforce Tower, where it will be taking up floors 36 through 38. The biggest draw will be the location and the views, Kwok said. 

The Rise Of The Alternative Co-Working Space

Rendering of Canopy's Jackson Square office in San Francisco

While WeWork expands throughout the Bay Area, so too do smaller operations that offer something tailored to specific populations. Canopy, a budding independent co-working provider that offers options for transient workers, has expanded into a second location in Jackson Square.

A new co-working startup, Spacious, also is looking for space in San Francisco. It partners with restaurants to convert their space, which is often unused during the day, to co-working offices. Servcorp, a provider of executive-level flex-office space and virtual office services, also has been expanding. Co-working is becoming so popular in the Bay Area, multifamily developers are adding business centers with co-working-like accommodations.

Canopy’s newest location in Jackson Square at Columbus Street and Pacific Avenue can accommodate up to 250 members in the 11K SF of Class-A office space. The space includes a 1,500 SF outdoor terrace as well as 23 private, soundproof offices with Herman Miller sit-to-stand desks for one to 16 people each. Shared workspaces and private desks for freelancers or nomadic workers also are available.

Its membership consists of founders and executives as well as creators, thinkers, builders and innovators, Canopy co-founder Amir Mortazavi said. Canopy members can partake in panel discussions, mixers, book signings, tastings and design, fashion and consumer product pop-ups.

The company offers a concierge-style amenities program, which includes a 14-person boardroom and three conference rooms, tech support, locks for each private office, 24-hour access and a store offering desktop accessories and tech products. A private kitchen is stocked with local products. Memberships are $275 per month for a shared table, $990 for a private desk and $1,800 for a private office.