Working in solitude is a tough job. It can be a detriment to some people’s well being and their productivity. That’s why in recent years, freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists, as well as remote workers all across the country are taking advantage of co-working spaces. Tacoma is right in the thick of this new work paradigm, and the availability of co-working space in the city is flourishing.
Co-working offers numerous benefits, such as structure that many can’t find going it alone in their own homes. Besides providing a place to work, co-working centers offer a supportive environment of other people in similar industries or work situations, as well as providing networking opportunities. Also, it’s significantly cheaper to join a co-working club than rent a traditional office space – and it’s that trio of financial flexibility, a structured work environment and support that has helped co-working spaces to gain popularity in recent years.
One family in Tacoma is making waves in the co-working arena. Before they opened co-working spaces, Amber and Eli Moreno ran a property management company and it was through doing this work that they saw the need for co-working centers in the area.
Currently, the Morenos have two co-working membership sites in Tacoma. SURGEtacoma was the first co-working space the Morenos opened back in 2014. Last year, they expanded and opened the Union Club, a 15,000-square-foot historic building in downtown Tacoma.
“The owners, the Moreno family, wanted to start a space they would’ve used when they were first starting out. They wanted to provide something with a low price point, that offered a community and that made business resources accessible to business owners,” says Janelle Jones, event and program manager at the Union Club.
According to Janelle, the Morenos chose Tacoma as the site of their co-working spaces because, unlike to the north of us, there aren’t a lot of large companies here, which leaves many people working from home or a coffee shop.
“There are more remote workers here in Tacoma and people often have a need for a quiet space to do work or meet with clients. They need a place to work besides their local coffee shop,” Janelle continued.
Although both SURGEtacoma and the Union Club have the same owners, and both spaces have both private and common work areas, each location has its own definitive vibe and personality.
“SURGE has more of a utilitarian feel, with less common space but more private work space available, while the Union Club has a lot of common space, plus more of the members are creative workers and entrepreneurs,” Janelle says.
Janelle also adds that while the Union Club caters to creative entrepreneurs, there are also members that run non-profit businesses as well as professionals from a wide range of other industries. Taking a look inside and around the Union Club, it is easy to imagine the inspiration many artists and other creative workers glean from this type of work environment and why they choose the space to complete their creative work.
The historic building has a number of verandas where members can choose to do their work on sunny days. The outdoor work spaces feature expansive views of the Port of Tacoma, Mount Rainier, Commencement Bay and the Thea Foss Waterway. Inside, there are stunning architectural details typical of old buildings such as large windows, a grand fireplace in the lower level event space and thick crown molding lining the doorways. The building also features antique furniture and light fixtures and historical black and white photographs from the club’s past guests and events line the walls.
In addition to the aesthetic appeal, the Union Club building has a rich history. Founded in 1888, its original function was that of a social and business club for the area’s most influential men, as well as visiting dignitaries and celebrities. Some years later, in 1906, a three-story addition provided a separate entrance so women could also access the Union Club. Later, in 1936, the University Union Club was founded. In its heyday, the Union Club’s distinguished guests included President William Taft, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and college football coach Knute Rockne.
In addition to their two existing co-working spaces, the Moreno family has plans to open a third co-working space in Tacoma in the fall of 2018. Janelle says that the second SURGEtacoma location will be located in South Tacoma and will be a mix of common work areas as well as some private spaces.