Coworking Comes to the Roaring Fork Valley
A booming business trend across the globe, coworking—shared office spaces with flexible rental options—has been slow to permeate the Roaring Fork Valley. But now it’s coming in hot, with no fewer than five coworking spaces opening from Aspen to Carbondale this year and purportedly more on the horizon.
“Cowork space is about having a hub; it’s to build a community and connectivity,” says Evan Zislis, co-founder and director of operations for Coventure, a new space in Carbondale.
Offering a limited number of memberships, starting at a month minimum, Aspen’s two new coworking spaces have a private club vibe. ALT-Aspen, launched in early 2019 on Cooper Avenue about a block from the gondola, caters to visiting executives and part-time residents. Its seasonal memberships hit all the predictable Aspen notes: generous gear lockers that accommodate skis and golf clubs, premium prices for private offices and event space, and technology and services to support members who may need to close big deals while on vacation.
One block east on Cooper Avenue, the owners of Local Coffee House and Maker are expanding into a 1,000-square-foot space next door. Set to open in July, Here House will feel more like an exclusive hotel lobby than a roomful of cubicles. With casual, open seating rather than desks or offices, table service from the coffee shop, and even a fireplace, the space is meant to be “an amazing platform for crossover networking and programming,” according to co-owner Michaela Carpenter. Sound enticing? Membership is primarily by invitation, for people who are “contributing to Aspen and making it what it is,” with some applications to be accepted at Carpenter and her team’s discretion.
Past the roundabout, coworking spaces more closely resemble those in corporate America, though with a blend of local and national flavor. On the Snowmass Mall, Engage Coworking offers daily, monthly, and even hourly rentals of work space—from floating desks to large private offices—as well as slopeside access, ski lockers, and bike racks for work-play balance seekers.
The Basalt Chamber of Commerce partnered with local property management firm the Romero Group (which also backs Engage) to open a 2,500-square-foot coworking space on downtown’s Midland Avenue early this summer. Both the Snowmass and Basalt locations—powered by the Proximity app, which ties them to more than 200 spaces across the country—are intended to help build a better business community and spur local vitality by bringing entrepreneurial and creative talent into the downtown areas.
Meanwhile, global coworking behemoth Regus, with 3,000 locations around the world, has signed a lease for 16,000 square feet in the Willits Town Center building formerly occupied by the Temporary performing arts venue. With 193 workstations, the Willits Regus, set to open later this year with a sleek, contemporary design, will be larger than the other four coworking spaces combined.
Is there that much demand for coworking space in the midvalley? Michael Berretta, vice president of network development at Regus parent IWG, insists there is. “We are finding demand across all types of markets, submarkets, and neighborhoods across our portfolio from customers that want to work near where they live and when on holiday,” Berretta writes in an email statement. “The Willits Town Center is a great example of demand from both customers who live nearby or vacation in the area.”
Perhaps the valley’s most ambitious coworking project is Coventure in Carbondale, which launched in March as the successor of GlenX, a business incubator and accelerator that originated in Glenwood Springs. Coventure’s mission: to provide comprehensive support for local entrepreneurs (including access to venture capital). Members get discounts and easy access to in-house programming. A lack of economic diversity in the valley fueled the concept, which seeks to build an ecosystem that can better weather downturns in the valley’s tourism-dependent economy.
Operations Director Zislis notes that Coventure is also a founding member of the local Conscious Capitalism chapter. “Our purpose is to help people do good in the world by helping them become great in business,” he says. “We’re in the market of saving the world.”
Dwayne Romero, president of the Romero Group, thinks interest is strong for coworking space and that the market for how much the valley needs will “shake itself out.” “Every town wants to be identified with thinkers who are creating tomorrow’s solutions, and coworking spaces become a nucleus for that,” he says. “Maybe someone will cure cancer from here.”