By Michael DeMasi, ALBANY BUSINESS REVIEW
Nearly three years into the pandemic, Jeff Goronkin isn’t seeing any slack in the demand for coworking space.
That’s evident in downtown Schenectady, where he recently expanded his Urban Co-Works into the first floor of the building at 430 Franklin St. and is exploring opportunities with the landlord for more space.
And it’s the reason why he’s leasing a 19,100-square-foot building in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, for the latest Urban Co-Works hub.
“There is not going to be any significant cool down in the market for coworking space,” said Goronkin, CEO. “There is a lot of opportunity for higher end or class-A-type office spaces that offer full amenities. Hospitality is a huge part of our business and flexibility is much needed.”
“It’s a really good time for this industry,” he added. “There’s a lot of offices that are still vacant. Companies are not going to back regular schedules, so that makes it a big opportunity for the flex office market.”
In Schenectady, Goronkin said the 8,500 square feet on the second floor of 430 Franklin St. quickly filled after opening in October 2021, and hit its capacity limit last summer.
With other tenants such as Simone’s Kitchen occupying the building, Goronkin decided to lease an additional 1,000 square feet on the first floor from the property owner, Spraragen Partners. The building, known as The Benjamin, is across from Schenectady City Hall.
“No sooner did we commit to it, one of our members [Healthy Alliance in Troy] ended up taking the entire section,” he said. “They like the flexibility of the lease, plus they like having a managed space. A lot of their employees now have flexible schedules so they don’t need as much space as they used to.”
Meanwhile, Goronkin had been researching potential cities to expand in the Northeast and settled first on Scranton, a three-hour car ride south of Schenectady in central Pennsylvania.
The city of about 76,000 people doesn’t have a lot of flexible office space. Goronkin met with economic development officials and eventually struck a deal to lease a building that can accommodate more than 60 offices.
“The thing about Scranton is it matches the demographic makeup of Schenectady, but it actually exceeds it in terms of population density and walkability,” he said. “The building we chose is in the center of the city, and they’re doing a lot of cool things in that area. There’s a reason why people come downtown, and we want to give them a place to work.”
If you know nothing else about Scranton, it’s the hometown of President Joe Biden and the fictional home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., made famous in the early 2000s by the NBC sitcom “The Office.”
Coincidentally, a large mural with images of the show’s cast will be painted on a building next to where Urban Co-Works is expected to open this summer at 116 North Washington Ave.
The offices will be designed with the same industrial-chic aesthetic as in Schenectady. More expansion is planned in the Northeast over the next few years.
“I want to target communities that are very walkable,” Goronkin said. “Schenectady was such a great sandbox. We figured out the model.”
PHOTO: The Urban Co-Works space in downtown Schenectady. DONNA ABBOTT-VLAHOS | ALBANY BUSINESS REVIEW