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After Delayed D.C. Debut, Bond Collective Retains Broker To Help Fill H Street Coworking Space

One of the common areas in Bond Collective's D.C. coworking space, which opened earlier this year.

A New York-based coworking operator has had a hard time filling its first D.C. space after the coronavirus pandemic delayed its opening, and now it is enlisting some local help. 

Bond Collective retained Stream Realty's Vanessa Carrion and Matt Pacinelli to help it attract tenants to its new coworking space on the H Street corridor, an area without a significant office market that it hopes it can benefit from people wanting to work close to home. 

After signing a lease in June 2018 to occupy 30K SF in Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners' 609 H St. NE office building, Bond Collective had planned to open in April 2020. Then the pandemic forced people to work from home and depressed demand for coworking, and the company delayed its opening to the beginning of this year. 

Now more than 10 months after opening, the space with roughly 500 seats is around 15% occupied, Bond Collective co-founder and CEO Shlomo Silber told Bisnow

"It's been a little bit of a grind," Silber said. "The beginning was really slow, and toward the middle of the summer it started really picking up, then delta slowed things down a bit, and of late things have started picking up again."

Bond Collective has six locations in New York, two in Chicago and single locations in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and D.C. The company has worked with brokers before, but Silber said this is the first time it has retained a firm as an exclusive broker on a project. 

"That was something we did during the pandemic because we felt like, to be frank, we need all the help we can get," Silber said. 

The company isn't the first coworking operator this year to retain local brokers in D.C. as the sector works to fill its pandemic-induced vacancies. WeWork retained Cushman & Wakefield to help lease its D.C. portfolio, and The Yard retained Colliers to help fill its Capitol Hill space, Bisnow reported in February.

The trend comes as coworking operators seek to benefit from some larger companies that have relationships with brokerage firms looking to spread their footprint out into a series of smaller offices with more flexible lease terms. 

"A lot of companies that wouldn't think to look at shared workspace are seeing options for plug-and-play space, so they'll go to a broker, but they're not just showing them traditional space," Silber said. "Our space has a lot of enterprise suites that wouldn't come from somebody just Googling for a space, but would come from somebody with a broker that would be looking at different floor plates and see this as an option."

The H Street corridor, with the Whole Foods-anchored Apollo building on the left, and the building that Bond Collective occupies on the right.

H Street has a relative lack of office options compared to D.C.'s central business district, but it does have a large number of residents who live within walking distance, and Bond Collective is betting they will want the ability to walk to work. 

The Bond Collective space sits next to Jair Lynch's 307-unit Anthology apartment building, and it is directly across the street from Insight Property Group's 431-unit, Whole Foods-anchored Apollo building. Another 419-unit project delivered two blocks away last year from Rappaport and WC Smith, adding more multifamily options to the already dense residential neighborhood. 

"A lot of people who live there don't need to go down to the CBD," Silber said. "They could find something comfortable, like an extension to their home office, down the block ... Covid, I'd say, exacerbates the fact that that's a really good option for people."

Carrion, a vice president based in Stream Realty's D.C. office, said she sees some office tenant demand on H Street and expects it will increase in the coming years. 

"The demand is there, but it’s not as high as in the CBD or the East End," Carrion said. "I think in time with all the new residential developments, the demand will increase, and there isn’t any real office space over there, there's only like two options."

The H Street corridor has another coworking offering one block from Bond Collective at the Seventh and H Street NE intersection. Insight built the 32K SF space for WeWork along with its Apollo project in 2017, but then the coworking operator closed the location early this year, and Industrious in July announced it would be taking over management of the space.

Silber said he thinks H Street is big enough for the two of them. 

"I'm sure there's going to be some direct competition here and there, but on the positive side, it's more education in the marketplace and creates a little more buzz," Silber said. "It's not like we have 200K SF spaces ... we're talking about a total of 60K SF, so I don't see any reason why we both can't be successful."