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The interior design is by Lacy O'Brien of Studio eIQ.

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The mural is by local artist Rachel Baxter. (She also created the new mural alongside Water Street.)

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Conference room space.

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A look around the new CoLab coworking space in downtown Albany

CoLab Albany mural

Ron Grieco, the co-owner of Stacks Espresso, was skeptical when his business partner, Tyler Wrightson, got back from a trip to Florida where he saw a coworking space next to a coffee spot -- and said they should open a coworking space here in Albany.

"I was like no way, this is out of our wheel house," he said. But he thought about it, and the idea started to make sense because they already had experience creating places where people like to hang out. And there was an open space just across the hallway from the Stacks in the Arcade Building in downtown Albany -- with the same sort of huge windows that look out onto the street.

"This was the perfect space because we're right there already," he said. "That was a big thing, striving for the kind of atmosphere that we create in the coffee shop, which is a warm, welcoming atmosphere."

And this past Friday their coworking space -- CoLab -- opened its doors.

Here's a look around the place along with a few bits about what's up.

The space

As mentioned, CoLab is right across the arcade-style hallway from Stacks on the Broadway side of the Arcade Building. It has big windows that look out onto the street, and the shopfront-style windows that look into the arcade and across to Stacks.

There are handful of photos at the top -- click or scroll all the way up.

Coworking?

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Here's the super short backgrounder on coworking if you're not familiar with it already: Coworking spaces are basically shared office spaces to which people can buy memberships, often by the day or month. The spaces usually have all the sorts of typical business office type amenities: wifi, printers, conference rooms, and so on.

The concept has taken off in many big cities to serve the growing ranks or freelancers or startups that want to basically outsource the work of office space management. Coworking has become an industry unto itself. And one of the players -- WeWork -- has expanded nationally and internationally and is said to be valued at something like $20 billion.

Here in the Capital Region, there are already a handful of coworking spaces. Among them:
+ Beahive Albany
+ Saratoga CoWorks
+ Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy
+ Troy Innovation Garage
+ Urban Co-Works in Schenectady
+ The planned Bull Moose Club in downtown Albany from Troy Innovation Garage

What's up at CoLab

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Ron Grieco and Katie McKenna

CoLab's rate structure is straightforward: $20 per day or $200 per month. It's free to try during the month of July.

And while some coworking spaces are focused on specific industries -- example: the planned Bull Moose Club will be geared toward lobbyists and other assort Capitol-connected industries -- CoLab has a more freeform approach in mind to building its crowd.

"I think it's like Stacks, kind of," said Katie McKenna, who's managing CoLab, this past Friday. "I mean, we have such a variety of people and it doesn't really matter who you are, where you come from. You just belong in our community."

McKenna and Grieco said they've already gotten interest from people in a variety of industries, from a woman starting up a dog grooming service to a person who works for the ACLU. Basically, people who might be office-less and need a place to work -- and it doesn't hurt to have a place to see people regularly and connect.

"Maybe they don't necessarily work on the same thing but they can relate to one another with this need," McKenna said. "Encourage one another and empower one another to thrive in whatever it is they're doing. And I don't think it necessarily matters like what it is you're working on. You can find common ground with just that experience."

CoLab isn't currently offering dedicated desk rentals (though that's a possibility for the future). You just show up, grab a spot, and work.

As of this past Friday some of the space was still being fitted out. The display screen for the conference room hadn't arrived yet. And the kitchen was waiting on its refrigerator.

Also coming up: The ability to rent the space for events.

Downtown Albany

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The Stacks shop in the Arcade Building is the company's second shop, following its original and popular Lark Street location. And Ron Grieco said the choice to expand to downtown Albany a year and a half ago has worked out well. He said the downtown shop's first year surpassed the numbers done by the Lark Street shop, and sales continue to grow.

And Grieco said the future looks bright: More residential is going in nearby, business such as Fort Orange General Store and Loch & Quay have opened down down the street, and the Albany Skyway is in the works.

"People are down here and they are desperate for something to do," he said. "So you know that's been a lot of it is just seeing that very steady growth and seeing that there are people down here and they will support the businesses that are supporting them."

Earlier

+ Why Stacks Espresso picked downtown Albany for its next location

Comments

Welcome to the coworking neighborhood, Ron and Katie! (I'm the founder of BEAHIVE.)

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Very nice redesigns. I hope that area becomes more of a neighborhood rather than what it currently is - still an expressway that happens to have hotels and apartments along it. I'd love to see wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes from Crossgates all the way to Manning.

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