One of the North Bay’s largest mixed-use developments now is opening a sizable coworking center as part of a rollout of live-work services ahead of construction of hundreds of homes at the project.
The developers of SOMO Village, a 176-acre project on the southeast edge of Rohnert Park in central Sonoma County, are set to unveil the 24,000-square-foot SOMO Cowork facility Saturday and have it ready for members to get down to business there on Monday. At the helm of the center is Maciej (pronounced “MA-jik”) Tlich.
Housed on the second floor of the existing 1500 Valley House Drive building, the coworking center has 65 private offices, common work areas with available dedicated desks, two meeting and two conference rooms, four videoconference rooms, five soundproof “phone booths” for private calls, a podcasting room, massage room, yoga studios, indoor cycling exercise area, and showers.
This will be part of “The Hub” of SOMO Village, a place for workers in the commercial space to come for lunch or a break and for residents of the future housing to gather, said Brad Baker, CEO and part of the Codding family venture that acquired the former Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies plant in 2005.
Infrastructure for the first of 10 planned phases of housing is going in now at the property, with the goal to start build 148 dwellings this winter, Baker said. The second phase starting sometime next year would be 300 to 400 homes, largely in multifamily buildings. At buildout, the project will have nearly 1,700 homes and nearly 50 accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny units.”
“This will be a community gathering spot,” Baker said. “People will be walking over and sitting for coffee and have beer and work for couple of hours then go to the gym. This is a community where you do not have to get into your car but can walk to work.”
The coworking space is designed around natural light, views of nature in greenery and local artwork and outdoor spaces. This fits with the OnePlanet sustainability certification that SOMO Village first earned in 2007, according to Baker.
The 600,000 square feet of former Agilent commercial buildings at SOMO Village have been repurposed into a multitenant property that’s home to companies such as tea maker Traditional Medicinals, recyclable single-use foodware producer World Centric, Morton & Bassett Spices, plastics-to-energy recycler Resynergi, high-tech work desk manufacturer Altdesk, and Rieke, which acquired Innovative Moldings and is part of the global company TriMas. Credo High School also occupies part of one building.
To further expand The Hub, Old Caz Beer has applied to the city to put in another taproom, to be located below the coworking facility. Started in summer 2018 by Sonoma State University alumni Bryan Regal and Tom Edwards, the brewery is located on State Farm Drive at the north end of Rohnert Park.
Codding is in discussions with a couple of operators for a coffee shop in an adjoining building to the coworking center. Also in the works is a fitness center called Complex, eyed for a winter 2023-2024 opening.
SOMO Cowork memberships have multiple tiers. The entry level is $49 monthly for two days of common-area access per month. For $375, members get a dedicated desk in the common area, where a second monitor could be left hooked up. Private offices run $800 to $1,400 a month, for one- to two-person and 12- to 14-worker suites, respectively. Included are coffee, unlimited printing, high-speed internet, sparkling water on tap with flavors. Dogs can come into to the office on a leash, and the center has contracted with a dog-walking service.
About half the memberships for the private offices (32 of the 65 available) are reserved so far, Baker said.
In the works are rentable storage for members that have equipment or products, such as an audio-visual company that works on SOMO Village live events at the complex’s events center. Currently, 5,000 square feet total is set aside, but options for more space are possible in adjoining buildings, Baker said. Another possibility for the coworking center, based on demand, is creating a shared photography studio for members that need product shots or portraits.
Codding had tried something similar to SOMO Cowork several years ago. Called SOCO Nexus, that 30,000-square-foot center was aimed more at being a business incubator, where fledgling companies are mentored by each other and a managing guide toward greater chance for success.
But Baker said a top thing learned from that unsuccessful effort — the incubator space was repurposed for Credo High School — was that members want private offices more than open-area desks. So SOCO Cowork was designed with twice the secluded spaces that the incubator had.
Also, the center had to have innovative design, rather than simply reusing the Agilent office space. And lastly, the coworking center needs to align with the development’s commitment to OnePlanet principles, key among them are promotion of health and wellness.