02.23.2017

WeWork Makes Big Splash in Downtown San Diego Office Market

Bisnow | San Diego, February 23, 2017

It took WeWork awhile to enter San Diego, but when it happened, it happened big. The new downtown San Diego WeWork B Street at 600 B St. that opened Dec. 1 occupies three stories — the fourth to sixth floors in the San Diego Union-Tribune building — and totals 90k SF. Most WeWork locations range from a 300- to 500-member capacity, but San Diego is the largest, with a 1,700-member capacity.

“We’re bullish on San Diego’s medium- to long-term prospects. It has all the factors that make a good market for us, [including] a large Millennial demographic that is driving trends around workplace spaces and the way people work,” said WeWork’s Jon Slavet, general manager on the West Coast. “San Diego is a global city, with a diversity of businesses and strong organizations like the Downtown San Diego Partnership.” He said Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Kris Michell worked with him to bring WeWork to downtown. “Downtown San Diego is a lovely place to work and live, and this is one of our best locations,” Slavet said. WeWork locations are designed in-house, and Slavet said all have unique designs with touches that connect with the location’s cultural environment, but the B Street WeWork is unique in that it also has a 7k SF rooftop outdoor space.

“We want to be part of the rejuvenation of downtown, and we’re excited about our growth in members here. This is an amazing place to work and lots of resources,” said Lexey Ratcliff, the senior community manager at WeWork B Street who provided Bisnow a tour of the facility.

Slavet said the B Street WeWork is adding 70 to 100 members monthly, and membership is very diverse and includes freelancers, venture-funded tech companies, small businesses and satellite offices of bigger firms that are trying San Diego out. Slavet expects to add regional headquarters of large, branded companies based elsewhere that are expanding into the San Diego market over the next three to six months. He said the San Diego location has flexible space that can reconfigured to accommodate up to 500 employees for members signing two- or three-year contracts.

Ratcliff said WeWork’s strong relationships with the broker community are helping sign up new members. Among current members are Bespoke Partners, a 40-person team focused on recruiting talent; Fanduel, an online sports gaming operator; You Can Brand, a startup that helps companies design and brand their businesses; a podcaster; a videographer; a video blogger; and several marketing and public relations firms.

WeWork is known for its beautiful designs and outstanding amenities. The B Street location has amenities on every floor, including a pantry with refrigerator and drinks on tap — fruit water, coffee and beer — conference rooms that accommodate up to 30 people, and a lounge area for working or socializing that doubles as event space. Ratcliff said WeWork offers a variety of events for members, including daily happy hours, taco Tuesdays, wellness days, networking, special events, educational programs, and expert lectures aimed at helping member businesses be successful and grow. WeWork’s VIP Treatment program provides members discounts with community retailers, restaurants and services.

WeWork offers a collaborative environment with a worldwide reach that connects members with mentors and helps them recruit talent, find members with synergistic skills, access new projects and clients and even business partners. Slavet said 50% to 60% of WeWork members end up doing some type of business together. Membership also provides traveling members a place to plug in and work anywhere in WeWork’s global workspace community and access conference space. Ratcliff said San Diego member startups have direct access to 400 venture capital sources in the Bay Area through the San Diego Venture Group’s satellite office, dubbed “The Beachhead,” because it is a member of a WeWork San Francisco location.

Founded six years ago, WeWork has grown from 20 to 100 locations, Slavet said. Combining the business acumen of Adam Neumann, who previously dabbled in both real estate projects and launched an apparel company, and the creativity of Miguel McKelvey, an architect with interior design and construction management expertise, the company has grown to 90,000 members. It was valued at more than $16B at the end of last year.

“We are in hyper-growth mode and building massive disruption in markets globally, and we will have 120 locations worldwide by the end of 2017,” Slavet said. “Southern California is very dense and a huge growth market for us.” He said 13 WeWork locations have opened throughout SoCal, from Los Angeles to San Diego, and three more locations are in the pipeline, including Century City and Burbank.

“We scour neighborhoods for opportunities. We look for great landlord partners in neighborhoods that have lots of amenities. All factors have to line up,” Slavet said.

Small and large companies seeking an engaging environment with large partitioned spaces will find WeWork less expensive on a per-employee basis than establishing a traditional office, and an engaging cultural setting for recruiting talent, Slavet said.

To hear more from Slavet, join us for our San Diego State of the Market event March 23 at The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.

 

Patricia Kirk