Hub gets its first co-working space

Staff prepares for customers at BronxCoworks. Photo: Joe Hirsch

Entrepreneurs now have a place in the Bronx to network with other local startups in the heart of Mott Haven’s commercial center. BronxCoworks, the area’s first privately funded space-sharing company, opened its doors in the Hub in March, offering private offices, a common work space and conference rooms at 2825 Third Avenue.

The company’s co-founder, Roger Saad said the idea has been brewing for a while.

“We always felt there was a need for inexpensive office space,” said Saad, 46. “The opportunity came when the space was empty,” following the closing of a fitness center on the building’s third floor, he said, adding that prices have been set 30 percent below those of similar enterprises in other boroughs. Members pay $35 per year, then pay monthly fees ranging from $250 for use of the common space, and up, depending on office size. Clients can opt to change their arrangement from month to month.

Flexibility is a key part of the draw, including ease of reconfiguring the common space to accommodate business’ specific needs, said Saad. Clients, he said, “aren’t locked into anything.”

The space’s 7,500 square feet have been divided into 25 offices of varying size and a common space with two long tables, several comfy chairs and a small kitchen area.

Though there are other space-sharing enterprises in the borough, Saad points out that those are funded with grants and therefore vulnerable to changes in their funding streams.

One new customer, Derison Puntier, 36, said the new center is a quick walk from his home in the St. Mary’s Houses. Puntier recently launched Credit Empowerment Center, a small financial counseling business. Though he offers virtual counseling for some clients, he will need a physical space to conduct workshops and to advise clients who feel more at ease meeting with their financial planner face-to-face.

For now, Puntier is eager to start work using the floating desks in the common space, and says he will rent conference rooms for meetings and workshops when necessary.

“I’m already signed up,” he said. “I’m not waiting. I want to mingle.” Puntier says he hopes to work with other entrepreneurs he will share the space with.

Deliv, a California-based business that delivers retail goods to clients’ homes, held a meet-and-greet with some of its Bronx-based drivers in one of the conference rooms on an afternoon in late March. A Deliv representative, Jonathan Crepeau, said the new space is ideal for renting conference rooms where administrative staff can meet with drivers once a month or so. The company uses similar co-working spaces in the other boroughs, but the new place offers them their first chance to do so in the Bronx.

“If you look for spaces, there are very few options,” said Crepeau. “Hotels don’t provide a very good professional environment. This is clean and organized.”