ZEELAND — Coworking space Little Space Studio LLC recently reopened its downtown Grand Rapids location after delays from COVID-19, and is now expanding with another facility in Zeeland.
The company’s Grand Rapids location at 111 S. Division Ave. launched in a testing phase in 2019 and shifted to a more digital format during the pandemic as in-person office spaces were largely closed.
After a successful full launch with all of its Grand Rapids suites booked up, Little Space is planning a westward expansion. The company is leasing and renovating 20,000 square feet of currently vacant space at the former Royal Casket Co. building near downtown Zeeland, said Little Space owner and founder Alysha Lach White.
“There has been a lot of interest in the new location,” Lach White said. “What we’re hoping to do is utilize growing partnerships within the Holland/Zeeland area to activate the space.”
Renovations to the space at 156 W. Washington Ave. are minimal and mostly involve accessibility, including adding an elevator, Lach White said. Little Space will operate on three floors, occupying most of the building with a mix of open space and suites. The goal is to open by spring 2022 at the latest.
The building, which has been vacant for a couple of years, was most recently occupied by a law firm and has seen a variety of light manufacturing uses, Lach White said.
“In every place we move into we want to make sure we adapt to that as best as possible because we’re the guests moving into their neighborhood,” Lach White said. “We’ve been developing a space in Grand Rapids for so long and it’s so refreshing to come to a town I’ve never really been to and learn about it and be a transplant myself.”
Lach White is researching the Holland/Zeeland area to pinpoint what coworking amenities would work best at the new location, she said.
“Some things we’re finding is an overwhelming desire for arts programming in all facets,” she said. “There is some (arts programming) in Holland but definitely not as much in Zeeland. There are a lot of freelance artists, illustrators, developers and designers that work from home in the area and are really hurting for community or at least access to a community space. What we’re hearing from a lot of people is that they love living in Zeeland, but feel isolated because of the industries they work in.”
The Zeeland location is expected to include a mix of private working suites as well as communal working space, Lach White said. The Grand Rapids location includes multimedia studios and event space.
“It is part of our business model that in the next five years we hope to have at least three to five locations across West Michigan,” Lach White said. “The whole point of starting this was creating little spaces that are focused on bridge-building. Also, from a business perspective, every time we open up a new location the value of membership increases tremendously.”
After uncertainty about the future of coworking spaces during the pandemic, Lach White has since seen memberships pick up “significantly.” Little Space has 66 active members and additional who work out of the space part of the year.
“A lot of people signing up for memberships recently have been wanting to do this before, but the pandemic has shown so many people that it is possible to have a flexible schedule to meet someone in person or remotely,” Lach White said.
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