With the demolition of underutilized buildings and activity on vacant lots making way for high-rise towers – St. Petersburg’s construction boom is surging. Karen and Bobby Burton are taking advantage of it.
The Burtons hail from Detroit where they run the SpaceLab, a co-working space that predominantly caters to the construction industry. They see an opportunity to replicate the same concept in the Sunshine City.
The Burtons signed a lease in March to take over a 5,900-square-foot ground floor space in the City Center office building at 100 2nd Ave. S., directly across from Al Lang Stadium. Engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates previously occupied the suite, before moving to Central Avenue.
“We have a lot of architects, real estate developers and contractors in our Detroit co-working space. With all of the projects in St. Pete, we want to bring that same collaboration here where people in a similar field can work together on projects and secure new business,” Karen said.
Developers commonly have a tedious selection process in hiring an architect, an engineer and a general contracting firm. Despite the collaboration, the firms are siloed, but a shared office space can unite them and spur business relationships, Karen explained.
“We love the area and spoke with the St. Pete Area EDC [Economic Development Corp.] about a year ago. They said there was a big need for more co-working space in St. Pete,” Bobby said. The couple have been visiting the city for over 10 years.
“We’re delighted to have another space for companies new to St. Petersburg. We work with a lot of entrepreneurs who value the flexibility of office space that allows them to scale up quickly or to establish their presence in St. Pete while their permanent space is being built out,” Marcus Greene, Chair of the St. Petersburg Area EDC, said in a statement.
Barry has a robust background in the banking space, while Karen also has years of experience in the architecture and construction field.
“The design and the back-of-office sides came together in more ways than one,” Karen chuckled.
Several architects working out of the Detroit SpaceLab who are licensed or receiving a license to work in Florida are interested in renting space in the St. Pete office, Karen said.
The Burtons have added fresh coats of paint to the space filled with seven private suites, a conference room and 25 floating and standing desks.
There’s also a conference room and a corner office that can be converted into a podcast or video conferencing room.
The floating desks can be reserved per month for $375. A dedicated desk with storage is priced at $475 a month. The offices, which are furnished, start at $675 per month. The membership includes WiFi access and refreshments.
SpaceLab has designated parking in the garage for its members. There’s also on-street parking that wraps around the building.
Although a grand opening is planned for August, the business is open for potential members to start booking desks and offices.
“We think this is a prime location and it’s going to sell,” Bobby said.
Similar to the SpaceLab Detroit location, which debuted in 2017, Bobby said they will offer financial literacy classes, launching July 26.
“In Detroit, we had an eight-week program on banking, investing and cryptocurrency,” Bobby said. Industry experts lead the lectures.
The space can accommodate 150 people.
The Burtons said they plan on becoming members of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and want to become active in the city’s arts and culture community. The couple previously worked with the City of Detroit on its City Walls initiative, which promotes public art in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Other co-working locations throughout the city:
The Florida Nest: 5922 9th Ave. N.
Uptown Works: 406 11th Ave. N. inside the historic Betty Ann Hotel
Thrive DTSP: 136 4th St. N.
Station House: 260 1st Ave. S.
Rising Tide Innovation Center: 433 Central Ave.
Industrious: 200 Central Ave.
CoHatch: 15 8th St. N. inside the former Harlan Hotel