The CoFounder, a nearly 9,000-square-foot shared workspace in Rogers, recently opened in Founders Plaza. The property managers said its amenities, proximity to other developments and community culture make it unique.
The CoFounder is on the lower level of Founders Plaza, a five-story, 117,000-square-foot Class A office building in Pinnacle Hills. Rogers-based Hunt Ventures, led by Johnelle Hunt, is the developer. President Tom Allen and executive chairman Brian Shaw, both with Cushman & Wakefield/Sage Partners, are representing Hunt Ventures as the landlord brokers and developer agents on Founders Plaza and The CoFounder. General Mills is the lead tenant for Founders Plaza.
“Over the course of 10 to 15 years that I’ve been doing this for Hunt Ventures, we get calls weekly from somebody that says I need one office…maybe two,” Allen said. “And we would stick them in an office and not give them any amenities.
“We were called on by Regus several times to do a Regus project here, and … it was a lot of money we would have to invest with Regus,” he added. “We decided that when we built this building we would go ahead and do it on our own. We felt like the timing was right. There’s such pent-up demand for it. With the pandemic, we felt like it was also a good time to do it.”
Jake Cole, a property manager with Sage Partners, joined the firm to help with coworking. Cole, who formerly worked with Regus, a company that also offers shared workspaces, said Regus offers a series of private offices.
“Whereas here, we have the big open area,” Cole said. “We have a basketball court. We have a gym attached. It’s a true coworking space; whereas Regus is more executive suites. It’s unique in that aspect.
“Location is unique as well. There’s nothing like that in the Rogers area. All the coworking that is in the area is in Bentonville.”
The CoFounder also is near Interstate 49, Pinnacle Hills Promenade, hotels and restaurants, said Allen, noting some of the first-floor features of Founders Plaza: “We’ve got a place-making space where people can hang out. We’ve got two fountains up there. We’ve got stairs that have a cascading waterfall.” Also, a restaurant is planned for the first floor with outdoor seating on a terrace facing the Walmart AMP.
Other amenities available to members include an 800-space covered parking garage, golf simulator, outdoor kitchen and fire pit.
Sarah Johnson, a property manager with Sage Partners, said people can get a membership or lease an office from Regus, “but this is a culture that we’re cultivating here. We’re building community in an A-class office space that’s available at a fair rate so that a startup can come in, grab a space and have everything they need. Or, a small business that’s looking to grow can start here, build their business and expand their footprint. There’s definitely nothing like this.
“The tours that I’ve done with the Northwest Arkansas Council with others who have traveled and worked in facilities similar to this across the country are amazed that it’s here, it’s available and it’s in Arkansas. The model is similar to a WeWork with regard to the community that we’re building.”
She added that The CoFounder has the most square footage available in the area dedicated to coworking at 8,043.
Allen said the concept of shared workspaces existed pre-pandemic, but it took on a different context in the workplace because of the pandemic.
“At first, people thought this would not work with the pandemic,” said Allen, explaining fears of contracting the virus while sharing space with strangers. “But actually, what we’ve all learned through people getting vaccinations and through people getting their natural antibodies… some small offices have decided to be more flexible.”
He said instead of leasing more office space, a tenant purchased a large membership at The CoFounder, allowing their employees to be on a flexible schedule.
Cole said after working from home amid the pandemic, people don’t want to sit in cubicles anymore. They want to interact with others. Also, for people who work remotely, they’d rather not sit at home all day, he added.
“They want to experience that office atmosphere but on their own terms,” he said. “They don’t have to go into the office every day, but they can have an office that they can go into. They have coworkers even if it’s from different companies. They still have that feeling that you get when you have coworkers that you hang out with at work.”
Inside, The CoFounder has conference rooms, 17 private offices with sit/stand desks, a kitchen with bar seating and couches. Outside will be an area designated for food trucks, Johnson said.
Since an August soft opening, The CoFounder has added nearly 40 members. Johnson said that number is expected to rise to at least 50 by January. While the space has a capacity of 81 people, Johnson said more than 80 memberships are expected to be available because not all members will be in the shared workspace at the same time.
Allen said membership includes startups and entrepreneurs who only need a single office but don’t want to rent a space. Prospective members include attorneys, financial workers and small businesses. Also, large companies are looking at the space to purchase memberships for flexibility, said Allen, adding that this wasn’t anticipated.
Brittney Hall, account manager for Tulsa-based IT recruiting firm SpringPoint Technologies, said the fast-growing company ran out of space at its Northwest Arkansas satellite office, so she and another account manager have started to lease private offices at The CoFounder while space for the company is completed at Hunt Tower.
“I absolutely love that I have the capability of four walls when needed, but I can also go out into the open area,” Hall said. “And the networking possibilities that you have, like meeting with different companies, especially being in sales, it’s so great to be able to make those connections. I think that is a big perk that you have while renting office space here.
“I like that it’s month-to-month because it allowed our company to be able to say, ‘Hey, we need two office spaces for our account managers,’” she added. “And it’s 24 hours, so we can come and go as needed. We can also rent conference rooms for the recruiters. Every Tuesday we have a meeting, and the entire office in Northwest Arkansas comes together and rents the conference room here. That’s so great to have that ability.”
It also offers people a quiet place to work “because Starbucks, in fact, is not quiet,” she joked.
À LA CARTE FEATURES
The CoFounder offers tiered memberships and à la carte options for amenities. For example, a day-pass membership to the coworking space doesn’t include access to the parking garage unless purchased. However, memberships that include a private office would have access to all amenities, including the parking garage.
Johnson noted another à la carte option is the lockers that are connected to an app that will bill members according to usage. Mailing addresses are also available to members.
Membership prices range from $40 for a day-use pass in the coworking space and up to $1,000 for a large office. A membership to the coworking space is $325 monthly. Cole said spaces are available for lease by month or year, and the price will be lower for a longer-term commitment.
Founders Plaza and The CoFounder were designed by Core Architects of Rogers. Crossland Construction was the general contractor. Allen declined to say how much was invested in the project but said Hunt Ventures was the sole investor.
Jordan Martin, chief operating officer for Sage Partners, said the project is substantially completed and an open house is planned for January. Construction started in August 2020 and was completed in August, Allen said.