CoLab managers plan to open innovative shared space next month

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After two years of beta testing, the Port Townsend CoLab plans to roll out its version of 1.0 in February.

The cooperative working model, which is gaining popularity in both big cities and small towns nationwide, provides a common workspace for freelancers or independent workers, offering shared resources such as conference rooms, office space and Internet service.

Cooperative working environments also offer places for people to interact, share their expertise and develop joint projects, the managers say.

“Our initial goal was about economic development for the community. We saw it as an economic tool,” said Heather Dudley Nollette, co-manager with Frank DePalma of the facility that will open at 237 Taylor St., in Port Townsend.

“We spent two years exploring whether it’s a sustainable idea and have come to the conclusion that it is,” Nollette said, adding that the date for opening has not been announced yet.

Nollette and DePalma are optimistic enough about the project to recently have secured a three-year lease.

The 2,300-square-foot suite one floor up from the Silverwater Restaurant will include individual workspaces, two conference rooms, a kitchen — with free coffee — and a printer.

It will operate on a membership model, ranging from a one-day $20 “drop in” fee through four levels of part-time clients paying $50 to $200 per month to two options for full-time workers.

The most expensive option, $375 per month, includes a dedicated desk.

The facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to start, but member agreements will accommodate a 24-hour access.

The number of customers needed in order to break even will depend on how many opt for a full-time membership.

“If we end up with five full-time memberships from the get-go, this will fill our needs,” Nollette said.

“After that, we can serve up to 100 members, including drop-ins,

“When you compare the full-time membership with what you would pay for rent, you find that you can get a small office for what it would cost here — but we offer a lot of extra value.”

This goes beyond equipment and bandwidth.

“There are benefits that you can’t put numbers on, and once we are open, these benefits will become clearer,” DePalma said.

“Once you have done this you see the value, there are studies that say that people who work in a collaborative environment are 40 percent more productive than if you are sitting alone, in a house.”

Nollette said it has not been decided whether to allow alcohol on premises — by law it is a non-smoking facility — and the code of conduct will be decided by the members.

For more information go to www.ptcolab.com, call 360-301-3779 or 206-387-9846 or email hello@ptcolab.com.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 14. 2013 5:47PM
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