Bristol CORE opens a coworking space
BRISTOL — The elegant sunlit office space once occupied by Connor & Buck Builders in downtown Bristol has recently gained new life as a coworking space.
Bristol Coworking is located upstairs from Bristol Cliffs Café on the north side of Main Street. The 1,000-square-foot space includes dedicated and shared desk areas, as well as a conference room to accommodate the needs of local freelancers, startups and remote workers.
The new venture was developed by Bristol CORE, an organization dedicated to increasing and maintaining the economic vitality of the downtown area.
“It offers a way to build community and interact and be downtown,” said Ian Albinson, executive director of Bristol CORE and a member of the town selectboard, who got the project off the ground. “You’re steps away from great food and coffee and things like the Bristol Ledges trail.”
Coworking spaces allow workers from several different companies, including the self-employed, to share an office space, which can save them money on common expenses like infrastructure, equipment and utilities.
It also provides the chance for community and interaction for those whose only other choice is a lonely home office.
The Connor & Buck space was practically ready-made for its new purpose.
“All of this was here and it was perfect,” Albinson said, indicating the generous, semi-private workspaces. “We wanted to keep the initial costs low so that we could get the space up and running.”
Bristol Coworking offers two different month-by-month membership levels — “Shared” and “Dedicated” — to accommodate workers with varying needs.
All members have access to secure high-speed wi-fi, thanks to Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, which is supporting the enterprise.
Members can reserve certain spaces at certain times by using online booking software managed by Bristol CORE.
Coworking has rapidly gained in popularity over the last 20 years, as the internet and smartphones have changed how — and where — people work.
Similar spaces have sprouted up in Middlebury, Vergennes, Burlington and elsewhere in the state.
As he developed the concept and researched best practices, Albinson was inspired in large part by Local 64 in Montpelier, a well-established space with a similar vision of creating community while sharing costs.
Once Bristol Coworking becomes established, Bristol CORE may be able to offer more customizable opportunities for clients, and add certain benefits, such as a coworking “passport,” which is a reciprocal agreement providing access to multiple coworking spaces around the state.
Albinson has been working for several years to bring a coworking space to Bristol, but couldn’t find quite the right space. When Connor & Buck Builders retired and their office became available, he approached them to see if they would lease it to Bristol CORE.
“It’s an experiment,” Albinson acknowledged. “We’re grateful for (Connor & Buck’s) willingness to take this leap of faith. They want it to work and they think it’s a great fit for the space.”
Bristol Coworking opened on Jan. 13 and already has five members.
IT consultant Chris Pepe is one of them.
“So many people work from home around here and there have been several attempts to have a coworking space in Bristol over the last five years,” he said. “It is exciting to have it taking form now and to have a beautiful space to work in. I hope that more people who work from home can join us as we build as new type of social office space.”
For more information about Bristol Coworking, email Ian Albinson at [email protected] or visit bristolcore.org/coworking-space/.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]
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