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Couple converts historic hotel into co-working space

Veronica Brezina

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Uptown Works founders Amanda Patanow and Vinny Tafuro inside the Betty Ann Hotel. All photos were provided.

The historic Betty Ann Hotel at 406 11th Ave. N. now boasts a fresh coat of paint and modern decor, as it’s about to become one of the area’s newest co-working spaces. 

Believed to have been built in the late 1920s, the Betty Ann has been reinvented over the decades to house apartments and storefronts. Today, a salon and retailer occupy the ground floor while the second floor is being converted into an intimate co-working space with private and shared suites, a kitchen and bathrooms.

The Betty Ann Hotel. The ground-floor tenants include Ryeno Cards Boutique, which sells collectable and vintage cards, and the Transcend Salon Studio, a longtime tenant. 

Building owner Brad Duncan intended to develop a co-working destination when he purchased the building last year in a $1.1875 million deal; however, after a 14-month renovation process, he handed the keys to Amanda Patanow and Vinny Tafuro, who are carrying out the initial vision. 

“What I found in the traditional co-working spaces didn’t really fit my needs because there’s a lot of big open space, and when I’m on Zoom calls all day it doesn’t work, but I was tired of being at home,” said Patanow, a marketing consultant. 

She and Tafuro, her husband and business partner, inked a three-year lease for the space in March to launch the Uptown Works co-working hub

“We were looking for small office space for her consultancy practice and to bring in some tenants to help lower the overhead costs,” Tafuro shared.  

The main entrance for Uptown Works. The space features acoustic hexagon wall panels that help absorb sound, creating a quieter environment. 

Co-working spaces have become a growing trend, especially during the pandemic as a hybrid workforce model swept through the U.S. and many business owners no longer desired to assume a large financial burden for traditional offices and execute long-term leases. 

The duo has operated in a co-working setting before, but they wanted a more confined space with significant parking and to be surrounded by walkable retail and restaurants. 

“Post-Covid, the way that we work has shifted so much and I think our options for workspace haven’t completely kept up. We are getting there, and we aren’t the only ones. I believe we are at a beginning of a bigger trend,” Patanow said. “There’s a difference of being forced into an office just to be there versus very intentionally forming connections with other business owners.” 

Inside Uptown Works, several suites, which could be shared by multiple members, are outfitted with desks and furnishings while other rooms are empty shells that could be customized. The couple said they may convert a nook in one of the rooms into a podcast recording studio. 

Uptown Works will function on a month-to-month membership model, allowing 25 to 35 members to book rooms up to six months in advance. 

The online booking system launched this week and there’s a waiting list of 20 people, including software and cybersecurity developers, financial planners, lawyers and other professionals. 

Inside one of the furnished suites. 

“We accepted this challenge to adapt a space and execute a plan in a short period of time. We didn’t have to take on business partners or outside capital to do it. This is really showing our abilities and aspirations to have this in this market,” Tafuro said.

Although there were many safety and cosmetic upgrades to the building, Duncan was able to retain the original window coverings and much of its original facade, with the exception of new hurricane-impact windows. 

“I purchased the property as I had been looking for co-working space and found there wasn’t much available. There was an old tanning salon upstairs that closed but it worked out perfectly because it had these single-occupancy rooms I could convert,” owner Duncan said. The building, he said, was in a state of disrepair but had hidden potential. 

The building is a state and federally designated historic structure, but it is not designated as a historic building in the city. 

“It’s a beautiful building that had deferred maintenance issues,” said Chris Featherston, Duncan’s leasing agent from Barkett Realty. “Brad stepped in with a vision and executed it very well. He was able to bring it to its former glory and add a trophy asset to his portfolio that they neighborhood is really proud of.”  

Featherston connected with Kimberly Parmelee, a liaison who worked with Patanow and Tafuro in their office building search. 

“I helped lease space at Thrive [a co-working hub in downtown St. Pete],” Parmelee said. “Had I not been at Thrive and seen this type of membership dynamic, it wouldn’t have afforded me the ability to know about this business model and the types of businesses that need co-working space.

“I know Brad didn’t have the time to manage the co-working operations, and now Vinny and Amanda will foster that vision.” 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ben Martinez

    May 10, 2023at12:51 pm

    I have not yet had the opportunity to view the space, but I am very familiar with management and can say as a matter of fact that they are striving for excellence with this venture and I am excited to see the results.

  2. Avatar

    Dr. Glenda Carne

    May 10, 2023at2:02 pm

    Amanda is my cousin. I’m so proud of the work they go to improve their community. Cheers to Vinny and Amanda.

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