Cooperative Venture Workspace Joins Area’s Cooperative Workspace Market

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Posted May. 29, 2016 at 2:01 AM

PORTSMOUTH – The newest shared office space in the region – COVE, at 36 Maplewood Ave.,– will have its official public opening June 9.
COVE is derived from the CO and VE in cooperative venture. The shared workspace in the refurbished former state Department of Health and Human Services building is the latest in a concept that’s become popular over the last few years on the Seacoast.

Other such cooperative workspace ventures include AlphaLoft at Madbury Commons in Durham and on Congress Street in Portsmouth, the ZipLounge offering at International Office Suites on Fleet Street in Portsmouth, and the ChamberLoft shared office space offered by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce in its building on Front Street in Exeter.

“We spent a lot on technology and design,” said Steve Kelm, the developer who purchased the property in 2010 and redeveloped it with design ideas from Jennifer Ramsey, architect and founder of SOMMA Studios. “I don’t think there is anything quite like this in Portsmouth.”

The entire project includes not only COVE, which encompasses about 7,500 square feet on the first floor, but a restaurant – Bubby’s New York Style Delicatessen – and seven townhouse condominiums upstairs on the second and third floors.

Kelm said the uniqueness of the shared workspace space lies in its furnishings, appointments and offerings.
In considering what COVE might be and looking at other shared office spaces in this region and Boston, he said: “The co-working model is typically – put as many people in as you can. It’s like a fishbowl.”

At COVE, he said, the emphasis is on Class A office space typically reserved for a Fortune 500 company. “The design, finishes, systems and furnishings within COVE represent the latest trends and technologies in the office market,” it states in its promotional material.
“We had a definite advantage owning the building,” Kelm said. He and Ramsey made an effort to use as much natural light as they could and gave the circa 1978 building a sleek, professional styling.

COVE offers a wide array of memberships and space to fit the needs of individuals or small businesses. Both Kelm and Ramsey relocated from their space on Bow Street to two of the 11 individual offices on Maplewood Avenue. There is also a large open space with dedicated cubicles and a long table for face-to-face interaction. Four conference rooms are available with two that can be converted into large boardroom space. One conference room includes a so-called “smart” whiteboard that allows for real time online interaction as notes or diagrams are written on or erased from the board. Other features include reception, café and lounge areas.

“We are really excited for the opening,” said COVE’s general manager Scott Blidberg. “We feel that we are truly adding something new and unique to the marketplace, and we are excited to finally get people in the door. We were able to create an amazing space that we know will serve as an asset to our members on many different levels.”

While there are some clients already working in the space, which became operational in April, Blidberg said he’s been busy in recent weeks “refining the systems, making sure they work.”

Membership information can be found at the COVE website, http://coveworkspace.com/

There are different levels of membership, depending on the needs of the client. “We’ve set up the environment to work with different lifestyles,” Blidberg said.

One of its offerings is a “virtual membership” for, say, someone who works out of their home but just needs a local business address and a location to bring customers or potential clients for a meeting in one of the conference rooms.

COVE also plans to host a variety of events, including networking meetings, informational/educational talks, meet-ups, development seminars and business after-hours receptions.

The COVE public open house on June 9 will run from 4 to 7 p.m. and will include food, drink and tours of the townhouses upstairs.
“We’re just trying to get the word out there,” Kelm said. “The initial reaction has been really favorable.”

By Paul Briand
business@seacoastonline.com
seacoastonline.com

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