Coffeehouses, rooftop patios, mansion attics available to rent
To shared rides, shared living spaces, and shared workspaces, a Denver startup called venUse would like to add another category — shared commercial space.
“Commercial real estate is so broker-centeric. People just need a place to go to see what is available,” said Jason Shepherd, a co-founder of the new real estate portal.
Shepherd said the only limits are a building owner’s flexibility and renter’s creativity in using the space. Art galleries could host more business gatherings and food truck vendors could inhabit restaurant kitchens after the last diners leave.
There are warehouses that could help carry the holiday crush of inventory on their empty shelves. And corporate board rooms that could host small business gatherings. VenUse also has empty window spaces to host ad displays.
“We are recycling real estate,” Shepherd said.
For example, Black Eye Coffee, in a LoHi building that was built 1888, can be rented out for $150 once it closes its doors at 6 p.m., and it is large enough to fit 60 people or more.
Garage Gym offers room for 150 and more in up to 3,000 square feet of expansive space that can be used for retail pop-ups and larger events. It goes for $1,500 a day.
Landlords get additional revenue to help their bottom line, while entrepreneurs can find a place to set up without locking into a long-term lease, Shepherd said.
The public gets access to a wider range of interesting spaces, not just hotel meeting rooms and event facilities.
Shepherd and his business partner Ryan Boykin co-founded Atlas Real Estate Group in the depths of the housing crash. Initially, they did fix-and-flips, then branched into property investment, property management and brokerage.
Atlas has long sought to squeeze extra value out of an asset. The company converted an old mansion into office space, and converted its dusty old attic into a Tahitian themed tree-house shared with a participatory community called Archipelago, and now through venUse with outside groups.
“The Attic is making another $2,000 to $3,000 a month in what was dead space,” Shepherd said.
Atlas earlier this month purchased Forge970, a 21,600-square-foot building at 970 Yuma St. that had been co-working space, but will be available on venUse.
But just listing a property isn’t enough. It has to meet a need. Joyride Brewing in Edgewater advertises a rooftop patio overlooking Sloan’s Lake for $100. So far, there haven’t been any takers.
“I believe the lack of lead generation is due to the restriction of our space,” said Grant Babb, co-founder of Joyride.
Joyride opens at noon, and the most likely time someone will rent the space is in the morning. But because the venue offers beer — not coffee, tea or soda — breakfast meetings don’t work.
Hosting yoga classes were another option, Babb said. But Joyride lacks a music license, meaning instructors can’t play recorded music.
“I believe if we could offer other services, venUse will be of value in trying to rent the space in off-hours,” Babb said.
Shepherd acknowledges the model is a work in progress and that services will likely need to develop around the available spaces. Public awareness needs to grow and more landlords need to get comfortable letting others into their space, literally.
But Shepherd is confident the model can prove itself in Denver and be expanded to other cities.
People think nothing today of stepping into a stranger’s car and trusting a driver to get them from point A to B safely. Or they will spend the night in the home of a person they have only met online.
One reason more landlords and business owners haven’t jumped onto the sharing economy is a lack of trust. But as trust grows, so will sharing, and as sharing grows, so will a larger sense of community, Shepherd said.
Article by: Aldo Svaldi – Denver Post