Daniels Ikajevs, the founder of The Ring, is bringing more than needed coworking and office space to startups in downtown Clearwater.
He’s creating a culture focused on wellness and sustainable practices that he says will help young companies thrive.
In The Ring, interior spaces are separated by large glass walls, allowing natural light from the outside to fill the entire space. Many of the tables are slabs of wood from trees that were not cut but fell naturally. There’s no single-use plastics or animal products such as leather or wool, and the office copier uses only recycled paper. Technology that creates optimal working conditions — smart lights, clean air and comfortable temperatures — is incorporated into The Ring, which occupies 18,000 square feet on the second and third floors of One Clearwater Tower, the former Bank of America building at 600 Cleveland St. that Ikajevs bought in 2013.
The building is one of just 60 worldwide, and the only one in Florida, that is part of the Healthy Buildings study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Ikajevs also is pursuing WELL certification from the same organization that last month said Water Street Tampa had achieved the WELL Design & Operations designation. Only one other coworking space, Workbar Back Bay in Boston, has achieved WELL certification.
“We are building a space for people who are environmentally conscious and care about their health and where they build their ideas,” Ikajevs said.
One of The Ring’s taglines — “Dream more, do more, be more” — is printed on one of the walls and it’s relevant to the building environment, he said.
“If you can get an extra hour of work done because you feel good, you are now more productive and that gives you a competitive advantage.”
Activate the downtown core
The Ring opened April 26 and is about 75 percent occupied. Ikajevs expects it will be fully occupied by the end of the summer.
There are four membership levels, ranging from $45 a month for an address and a mailbox, to $99 a month for first-come first-served coworking space, to $250 a month for The Contenders Club, with 24/7 access to a secured room with assigned seats. Private offices that accommodate from one to 12 people range from $370 to $4,000 a month.
The Ring takes its name from a boxing ring in the largest conference room. It will be used to host the Main Event, where members of The Ring can make their pitch to venture capitalists. The room also can be arranged for yoga classes, seminars and corporate events. The Clearwater Chamber of Commerce uses it three or four times a month, Ikajevs said.
Ikajevs and his wife, Simee Adhikari, along with chief operating officer Janelle Branch, spent two years researching and planning the space. It cost about $2 million to build out. A $600,000 grant from the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency helped keep membership costs low, Ikajevs said.
The CRA viewed the addition of a coworking space as a way to further its strategy to attract and support new entrepreneurial small businesses and activate the downtown core, according to city documents.
There’s at least one other coworking space in Clearwater, The Qworking, as well as The Hub in nearby Largo. There are many more coworking spaces in St. Petersburg and Tampa. The number of coworking spaces in the U.S. rose 16 percent in 2018 with annual growth projected at 6 percent going forward, a January report from Colliers International said.
Ikajevs already is scouting for a second location for The Ring, preferably in the Tampa-St. Pete area, or at least in Florida.
He said the concept will change communities. “What I dream of seeing is the culture our members learn here as they outgrow their space is that they take the practices they learn here to their new offices as well.”