More Coworking Space Coming to Honolulu
In the works for more than a year, California-based Real Office Centers is preparing to open its sixth location (and its first outside the Golden State) in Honolulu, with a "sneak peek" preview event on Thursday.
ROC taken over a 15,000-square-foot corner office building in Chinatown, at the former Won Kwok Noodle House location at the corner of Nuuanu Ave. and North Hotel Street, and offers what it calls an "open-source work environment," with virtual office, collaborative workspace, and private office options. Private offices of about 100 square feet are available for about $800/month beginning in May, according to the commercial real estate listing posted last week, and altogether ROC's Honolulu space could house up to 50 companies.
Coworking is just one facet of ROC's model, which the company puts in the local "shared office space" market alongside Resource Suites in Waikiki, ProWorks at Ala Moana Center, and Luxembourg-based Regus at Restaurant Row. But the collaborative workspace concept is aimed directly at the startup community, like the Box Jelly and ProtoHub in Kakaako. But of these options, ROC is the first to put down stakes in downtown Honolulu.
When ROC CEO Ron McElroy signed the lease in November 2013, he had ambitious plans to open last March, hoping to sink no more than $1 million into the project. But the building is not a gleaming tower of glass and steel.
"It’s vacant, very dirty, very old, very beat up," he told PBN. "We’re sinking a lot of money into it, completely rehabbing the entire facility."
Last April, the company told PBN that they were a month away from opening, and they were still bullish on the strengths of its location, describing it as "the bridge between Chinatown and the financial district." There were several incubators (including Maui-based mBloom) committed to being tenants, the space was being described as a "mini alternative energy lab site," and McElroy even told the Star-Advertiser that he was considering a second location in Kakaako.
A press release at the time noted that McElroy had met with the HSDC, DBEDT (and its Creative Industries Division) and Georgette Deemer, Deputy Managing Director for the City and County of Honolulu.
"Sustainable infrastructure is necessary to make business and commerce happen smoothly, or in today's terms, organically," McElroy said. "To know that an entire city and state are willing and able to lend support in cleaning up our community the right way is truly a good feeling... a feeling of Aloha!"
It's unclear why the opening was delayed for almost another year, but it's surely not easy to launch a coworking space. The official launch of the full Impact Hub was originally planned for last fall, with an 8,000-square-foot space inside the HCDA office on Cooke Street. For now, its precursor -- the ProtoHub -- is making the most of its prototype space on Keawe Street.
This week, ROC is opening its doors to the public for the first time, with a "sneak peek" tied to this weekend's mobile app hackathon. Honolulu New Tech is hosting the ROC preview on Thursday, Feb. 12, with food and beer offered free to attendees who RSVP in advance (it'll be $10 at the door).
Photo courtesy Burt Lum.