Rather than focusing on individual workers like traditional co-working companies, Edison provides flexible, turnkey office space for small companies without any long-term commitments.
The company opened its third location and first outside of Kansas City Aug. 1 in Edge@West, a $35 million, four-story, 110,000-square-foot Class A office space at 12645 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur developed by Larry Chapman and his company, Seneca Commercial Real Estate. Seneca sold the building in March for $27 million to an affiliate of Larson Capital Management.
Edge@West is 82% leased and is in talks with tenants about the remaining three spaces. The build out for Edison Spaces and its 38 fully furnished office suites spanning nearly 20,000 square feet is estimated at $1.1 million. The turnkey suites can fit companies up to eight employees.
Aside from being built on spec during a pandemic and opening earlier this year, Edge@West distinguishes itself by bringing open floor plans and amenities that are more typically found in startup spaces, like the city’s Cortex district or T-REX incubator, to the suburbs.
The feel inside Edge@West is definitely not that of “your grandpa’s law office,” Chapman told the Business Journal. A similar level of amenities could be found at office spaces in California, but the developer believes that they’re unique in St. Louis buildings already constructed.
Edison Spaces and the development’s larger office tenants, including an entire floor leased by worldwide insurance company FM Global, will share the common areas that make Edge@West a unique workplace. The building features a Kaldi’s coffee bar, huddle rooms and conference rooms, soundproof phone booths for private conversations, a mini mart with fresh food, fitness center, multipurpose room for large events, audio-visual components throughout, a bocce ball court, putting green, a basketball half court and lounge areas in front of fireplaces that have garage doors that can be pulled up to bring the outdoors in good weather.
Although the idea for the building predated the pandemic, its innovations give companies a space that employees will want to return to after working from home, Chapman said. He sees the office building as an experience in the same vein as one of his other signature developments, the 9 Mile Garden outdoor food truck plaza in Affton.
“It’s about the experience — we live in the experience economy,” Chapman said. “If we keep doing that, that’s where the people will flock to first. It’s just a place where you can hang out and have fun and collaborate and do cool things. Walking around, it’s palpable —it just has a feeling about it that makes this a great place to be. You can tell it’s just welcoming and comfortable and the kind of place you’d like to go to work every day.”
Edison Spaces is also testing out a new revenue model with the expansion to St. Louis. Instead of a lease arbitrage model, the company is moving toward a joint partnership that includes revenue sharing with the landlord. To operate in Edge@West, Edison Spaces signed a management services agreement with Seneca CRE. Under the agreement, Chapman gains access to smaller users that typically wouldn’t be his tenants, while Edison Spaces gets access to the amenities of a much larger cutting-edge development. Edison is looking to expand next in Omaha, Des Moines, Oklahoma City or Wichita, Kansas.
“It was a beautiful marriage of opportunities and spaces where our flexible office build out can vary in size, but all of those users would then have access to a really robust, beautiful set of amenities that a lot of modern businesses are demanding,” said Edison Spaces Managing Director David Heyburn.
Edison Spaces offers companies flat rates month to month after an initial 90-day commitment, with everything like furniture and WiFi included. That differs from some competitors that charge extra for everything, said Chapman.
In a second-quarter report on the St. Louis office market, Cushman & Wakefield called Edge@West one of the “region’s highest quality buildings” along with Centene Plaza C and two high-rises still under construction, Forsyth Pointe and the Commerce Bank tower. Combined, the four buildings have already leased 180,000 square feet of space this year, the report said.
Overall, West County has a vacancy rate of 15.5%, slightly lower than the overall St. Louis average of 15.9% as of the second quarter of this year, according to the Cushman research. Asking rents average $22.78 per square foot for all classes or $26.22 for Class A space, above the averages of $23.03 and $24.79 for the St. Louis market as a whole.