Connect Coworking Perfectly Positioned For Downtown’s Bright Future
February 14, 2014
by James J. Jefferies
The evolutionary leap from intrepid, would-be entrepreneur with a burning idea, to that of a hard-working captain steering a fully-functioning enterprise, can seem like a Grand Canyon-sized chasm. Many start-ups never make it from kitchen table daydream to proud company with its own headquarters, yet we live in a time when more people than ever are making that bold leap for themselves.
It is absolutely critical to not only have a low-cost middle-ground solution in terms of a quality location with all the amenities where one can work hard towards their goals, but also to have access to a thriving hive of like-minded individuals who have faced so many of the exact same start-up issues and are willing to collaborate in ways that benefit all involved.
Coworking is a relatively recent phenomenon, in which a location exists where individuals can enter short-term leases for office space, usually replete with necessities such as networked printing, high-speed Internet, coffee and meeting spaces. It’s an infinitely better solution than huddling up at your the global coffee chain with the spotty wi-fi.
Connect Coworking, located on the upper floor of the historic Rialto Building, is a next-level vision of this kind of environment, the brainchild of Scott Stiteler and Rudy Dabdoub. Stiteler is a well-known Downtown developer, and his previous partnership with Rudy led to a conversation about how best to facilitate the kind of environment for motivated individuals in a manner consistent with the community-conscious spirit of Tucson’s robust urban renewal.
The entire project first touched ground with the opening of Connect Beta, the smaller prototype that has inhabited the block caddy-corner to the Rialto right next to Sparkroot. Stephanie Bermudez, Community Manager for Connect, says this period was absolutely critical for ironing out what they wanted to ultimately do with the space at the Rialto.
“We learned a lot from Beta,” said Bermudez. “It allowed us to test our plan with early adopters, and it confirmed that we were on track.” Even during this formative phase in the Beta location, there has been plenty of noteworthy successes under that smaller roof to point to, with a contract having been inked with Samsung, the forging of a community clean energy initiative with Greenstone, and several members of Connect Beta seeing roughly a 25% increase in traffic for their own ventures since moving in.
If one can point to the single most valuable intangible of such a scene, it’s really the ability to have a place of business conducive to those unforgettable conversations where a distant, elusive idea begins to take actual form amongst excited fellow dreamers with expertise to share, and comfortable enough to get you through the brutally long 16-18 hour days typical of a start-up. “We’ve got a space with a lot of glass and natural light, and it’s really amenable towards creating an environment that fosters collaboration. It’s very easy to be social here,” said Bermudez. “In a coffee house or your home, you aren’t generally able to bounce ideas off of like-minded people.”
In that regard, Connect Coworking is essentially the perfect situation, happening at exactly the right time. 14,000 sq. ft. of brand new beautiful collaborative office space with mail and address service, high speed wi-fi, printing, showers, a kitchenette with craft beer on tap and gourmet coffee, not to mention pool tables, televisions, ping-pong, foosball, hanging daybeds, and outdoor patio areas that overlook the intersection.
The location will open on April 1st, ready to house 170 business professionals via a mixture of full-sized private offices, dedicated desks, and what they referred to as ‘Superman’ booths where you and a client can step into for short-term privacy, along with a variety of other meeting spaces. (Cape not included.) It sits at the very heart of the Downtown urban renewal at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Congress, and is positioned to be the crossroads for a diverse group of bold and bright individuals who are determined to take us into a new era of growth, while keeping our tightly-knit sense of community and collaborative culture that makes Tucson what it is.
If you want in, you’d better act fast, as they have already allotted 40% of the available spaces at Connect Coworking. Hard-hat tours have been ongoing daily, and they presently have a 50% conversion rate, meaning that half the people who take tours end up so impressed with the location that they commit. The pie is on the windowsill, and if you’re ever gonna grab a piece of it… that time is now. Connect Coworking is located at 33 S. Fifth Avenue. You can book a hard-hat tour here, and find their website here.