Twin Cities’ hometown coworking company COCO unveiled renovations to its largest location in downtown Minneapolis Monday, a year-long project that expanded COCO’s downtown presence to cover a full city block.
The new space in the Grain Exchange’s north tower connects via private skyway to the original space in the retro trading floor. COCO community manager Jamie White said that the renovations were prompted by increasing demand from members for things like more offices, phone booths, meeting areas and kitchen space.
“Things were getting a little crowded, but mostly the decision to expand came from the increasing demand for coworking space,” White said. “And we wanted to make sure people were having the best possible experience.”
The renovations added 19 additional group coworking spaces, a 50-seat common coworking area and 11 new dedicated desks for individuals, among other amenities. When the renovated space opened Monday morning, around a half-dozen of the new group coworking spaces were already claimed. With some space to spare in one part of the office, White said that COCO was contemplating the addition of a “candy corner.”
COCO opened the downtown space in August 2011, one year after debuting its flagship location in St. Paul. The Grain Exchange has always been the company’s largest location. The renovations added an additional 15,000 square-feet, doubling the its size to just under 40,000 square-feet.
COCO’s expansion comes at a time when the Twin Cities coworking market is becoming increasingly crowded. Currently, there are more than 20 coworking spaces in the Twin Cities and its surrounding suburbs. Four of those belong to COCO.
This fall, Industrious, which already has a space Downtown, plans to open a second Minneapolis location in the North Loop. International coworking giant WeWork has been eyeing an office in the Twin Cities for some time. Earlier this summer, the company announced it would be opening its first Minnesota location in Minneapolis’ Capella tower, just three blocks away from COCO’s space at the Grain Exchange.
COCO co-founder and CEO Kyle Coolbroth said that COCO’s edge is that it offers more variety than some of the other coworking spaces in town.
“We see COCO’s model as unique, since we provide more membership plans for small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups overall,” Coolbroth said in an email. “Not everyone wants to (or fits into) a suite. That’s why our various dedicated group spaces for teams and coworking memberships for individuals vary widely, so that businesses of all sizes have options.”
White added that she isn’t nervous about WeWork’s new presence in the Twin Cities. Rather, their interest in the area confirms something that she and others at COCO have always suspected.
“I think it shows that coworking is something that the Twin Cities really wants,” she said. “There are more and more people that don’t want to work the classic nine-to-five, and they need the right space to do that.”