New co-working site tries to balance needs of post-COVID workplace

Sunrise Solars Coworking off Route 7 in Latham is shown in this image from earlier this year.

Sunrise Solars Coworking off Route 7 in Latham is shown in this image from earlier this year.

LATHAM — A local apartment developer and manager is expanding into the office space market with a new co-working facility that it hopes will meet the needs of the post-COVID era.

Sunrise Solars Coworking is one of three passive solar buildings built in a cluster in Latham by Sunrise Management & Consulting. A formal ribbon-cutting is scheduled Tuesday but two tenants already have committed to the space.

It’s one of a number of new co-working spaces across the region and is built around the same general concept: Small, flexible spaces for businesses or entrepreneurs who don’t want to commit to particular square footage for an extended period.

“We’ve designed this a little differently from the other co-working spaces,” Sunrise President Jesse Holland said Friday.

Many feature an open area where tenants sit in proximity, plus some private offices or suites. Sunrise skipped the bullpen layout and partitioned the room.

“Ours is all built out,” he said. “You wind up with a relatively private space.”

There’s also a conference room if more space is needed.

With brand new ventilation equipment up to the latest standards and 14 individual workspaces with walls and windows, the design should provide increased safety from workplace transmission of germs, which remains a concern for many people even as the pandemic subsides.

“At the same time, the office market is even more dynamic,” said Holland, a Niskayuna resident.

“It’s more fluid now, or people would like it to be more fluid if you can. It’s hard to think in five-year blocks or 10-year blocks.

“We’re only requiring monthly membership,” Holland said. “We think there’s a lot of companies out there that have five people that don’t want to be completely virtual … but unless they’re meeting they’re not all in the office at the same time. This becomes a much more efficient way.”

An insurance company and a staffing company are the first two tenants. The space has also had transient visits, including from employees of a Syracuse engineering firm working in the Capital Region.

Sunrise was formerly based on Washington Avenue Extension in Albany and decided to create an office on the same campus as the two passive-solar apartment buildings it was constructing.

COVID scrambled the timeline — Sunrise couldn’t finish the new office space before the lease on its old space ran out, so it worked out of one of the apartments for a while. The remaining apartments were fully leased out within 45 days of the two buildings’ completion in February and July 2020.

As for the roughly 1,000 other apartments that Sunrise owns or manages across the Capital Region, COVID’s impact has not been too severe: Some tenants have lost jobs and been unable to pay rent. One was stranded in Ghana of all places and couldn’t access his funds.

“Most of our residents have done the right thing by us and we’ve tried to do the right thing by them,” Holland said.

This has included Sunrise letting them out of their leases, or working out a repayment plan for past-due rent. 

Some have refused to pay and refused to even talk to the owners about it, a scenario many landlords say is crushing them amid the pandemic. The number of such tenants is very small for Sunrise, Holland said, but there’s no leverage against them, as long as the eviction moratorium continues.

Sunrise has managed some small commercial and retail buildings but this is its first foray into office space.

Its new headquarters is in the same building and was in fact the impetus that led to the creation of the co-working space.

“This grew out of wanting our own office space,” Holland said.

Categories: Business, News

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