February 21, 2018

As coworking grows up, niche spaces catering to small businesses take center stage

By Rachel Layne, Special to USA TODAY…

Karen Burton’s longtime dream of a home for building industry entrepreneurs in Detroit came to fruition in June.

Bolstered by a $55,000 city development grant, Burton and husband Bobby opened SpaceLab Detroit, a 5,200-square-foot co-working space in the heart of downtown just as the real estate market there gathers steam. In October, the area cracked Realtor.com’s Top 10 hottest U.S. markets, coming in eighth.

“I did freelance architectural design for quite some time. I worked from home, worked from my clients’ offices,” said Burton, 52. “I just wanted the amenities available in an architecture office and to be able to share resources.”

SpaceLab now has 30 members working in construction, interior design, architecture, real estate law, property management and even furniture supply. It’s filled with tailored features like a large-scale printing plotter and a specialized materials library. Members are steps from city offices that oversee building applications and permits, and some are already teaming up to bid on new contracts.