Coworking Demand in Jacksonville Is Growing!

Recently, the Jacksonville Business Journal featured our growing presence in our area. Check out the full article below:

A CEO who runs two coworking companies has growing interest the Southeast and Jacksonville as key areas growth in the industry.

UFG Coworks Division Chief Strategy Officer Jason Anderson, who also oversees national coworking company Venture X, said Office Evolution was acquired by the brand last year. Office Evolution is franchisee-operated and has more than 70 locations across the country.

Louisville, Colorado-based Office Evolution opened its third coworking location in Jacksonville’s Brooklyn area in February. The 14,420-square-foot site is located at 245 Riverside Ave. Office Evolution also has locations near the St. Johns Town Center and in Bartram Park, as well as others around the state.

“We don’t say, ‘Hey, where do we want to put a cool pin on the map.’ In this industry over the last few years, people have raised a ton of capital and they just want to open up as many locations as possible,” Anderson said. “As a franchisor, that’s not our goal. We want to have as many successful locations as possible where we know there’s high demand. That’s why we added another location in Jacksonville, (franchisee) Mike (Wielgus) and his team had a ton of success with those first few locations.”

The Brooklyn location was announced in June.

“This Class-A, riverfront location is easily accessible for new members that reside in the Riverside, San Marco, Avondale, Ortega and downtown communities,” Wielgus said. “Our goal is to bring great flexible workspaces close to where our members live. The new way people work today aligns perfectly with our workplace offerings.”

Coworking is part of the economy becoming more flexible for customers such as what taxi apps Uber and Lyft did for travel, Anderson said. And perceptions have changed, he said.

Coworking in the U.S. has grown tenfold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Anderson said. Largely based on demographics and location, the pandemic created a work-from-home experiment where people split into two camps: people who were never going back to an office and people who had the opportunity to work from home and didn’t like it.

This intersected with a drive from large commercial office users trying to downsize, Anderson said. Companies had to re-evaluate having a presence with a large headquarters and space for hundreds of people.

“All these people in suburban markets just want an office closer to home. The pandemic really hurt in the short term, ‘This is the end of the world, no one is coming to an office,'” Anderson said. “But in 2021 and 2022, our numbers went up and to the right in occupancy and revenue.”

The Riverside Avenue center will serve more than 300 members and feature 55 private offices, multiple coworking areas, phone booths, three conference rooms and a lounge, the release said. Office Evolution will have eight total Florida locations with approximately 80,000 square feet total, the release said. The company’s workspaces include private offices, meeting rooms, virtual offices and business services at varying rates.

“Ultimately our franchisees open where they think is going to be the most viable,” Anderson said. “So we definitely think there’s going to be more development in Florida in the next few years.”