Chasen Companies plans to deliver The Brixton, a $12 million mixed-use property featuring coworking space, in Fells Point next year, despite the shared office sector’s struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The building is planned for the longtime vacant lot at 421 S. Broadway and will include retail, 33 apartments along with 14 so-called “executive suites.” Plans for the building also incorporate a roof/spa deck with a bar for tenants and clients.
“There’s so much multifamily in the area that coworking is a natural fit,” said Brandon Chasen, CEO of Chasen Companies.
Chasen’s optimism regarding the coworking aspect of the project, however, contradicts broader expectations for the shared office market overall.
The COVID-19 outbreak has hammered the sector with a combination of obstacles, such as pushing more people to work from home and increasing squeamishness about shared spaces in light of the disease’s spread.
Research and Markets issued a report last week projecting the global coworking market to drop from $9.27 billion in 2019 to $8.24 billion in 2020.
That same report, however, pegged most of the decline to poor economic conditions and not coworking spaces falling out of favor.
The leasing agent for the firm’s Vision Co-Working Space in Federal Hill, Chasen said, receives three to five inquiries a week about the availability of similar space in Fells Point.
Chasen Companies has already made a sizable investment in Fells Point, delivering three buildings with roughly 200 apartments in the last two years. Those apartments have attracted a bevy of interest and pre-leased in under 30 days, Chasen said.
Between the inquiries about coworking space in Fells Point and the velocity of apartment leasing in the neighborhood, Chasen said, he’s confident The Brixton will produce the expected return on investment.
Chase credits his company’s success to its stature as a boutique developer, and he said it positions the company’s projects well in the future. That’s because in the wake of COVID-19 tenants often like to be in smaller-scale buildings.
“It’s a great niche space we’re in right now,” he said.
Chasen expects to close on The Brixton project by July. Obtaining proper permits to start building, he said, may take about 60 to 90 days. The building’s plans have already been before the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.
A conservative estimate puts the delivery of the building about 18 months away, Chasen said. The Brixton will help tie that section of South Broadway with the Thames Street corridor, Chasen said, both in terms of development investment and architecturally.
“I think our design, aesthetically, tries to include the historic character of Baltimore,” he said.