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Small Office Listing Platform Truss Launches In Philadelphia

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Small Office Listing Platform Truss Launches In Philadelphia
A small office space in Two Logan Square listed on Truss as of Jan. 30, 2019

PropTech firm specifically for small office users has come to an office market dominated by them.

Chicago-based Truss launched its online office listing service Jan. 29 in Philadelphia, its ninth market, the company announced. Restricted to blocks of 10K SF or less, Truss launched with roughly 80% of all available small spaces in the city, and the company expects to reach 100% in months, then add the Philly suburbs (including South Jersey) by June, co-founder Tom Smith said.

“Very quickly after launching, because of the tenant demand we see, we tend to get from 80% to full market coverage within a few months," Smith told Bisnow. "Because it’s free and non-exclusive, no one wants to miss out.”

Truss already has at least 400 blocks of space listed on its site, in addition to 20 coworking locations from various operators. Among those operators is 1776, with which Truss has partnered to both highlight the operator's space for interested businesses and find private office blocks for 1776 members ready to graduate to a private office.

“[Philadelphia was among] our first 10 [markets] because it’s a top-10 real estate market, and we actually see a lot of incubation and entrepreneurial activity in Philly that we don’t see in some other markets,” Smith said.

Truss partnered with 1776 first upon its launch in Washington, D.C. According to Smith, 1776's roots in Philadelphia (originally as Benjamin's Desk) were also a "major factor" in its decision to expand to the city ahead of San Francisco and Seattle, which are next on Truss' list. 

Truss does not charge landlords to list on its site, nor does it charge prospective tenants for accessing those listings; it takes the standard tenant representation fee in what leases wind up getting signed. When property is listed on the site, a Truss employee goes to the space to capture it with 3D photography for virtual tours at Truss' expense.

“The existing ecosystem tends to guard availabilities and pricing, and we’re breaking down those barriers at no cost to tenants, and empowering them to complete the full transaction,” Smith said.

Though a company can go from browsing to signing a lease on the computer, Truss does have employees to offer in-person tours by request. Regardless, the streamlining of the process can have an outsized impact in Philadelphia, where smaller tenants drove the bulk of net demand from 2016 to 2018, according to JLL Research Director Lauren Gilchrist.

Among the areas with the largest concentrations of listed space are Market West, University City and Midtown Village. Outside of the city center, Smith said that local interest has been strong in the burgeoning creative office neighborhood of Spring Arts.

Truss also has platforms for industrial, flex and retail space active in other cities, although they are not yet live for Philly. Smith expects those services to be live by the end of the year.