Unlocking Potential: From Vacant Offices to Thriving Co-working Spaces

Post Category : borrow money, Commercial, Lending, Loan


Empty spaces; endless potential. Amidst the rubble of vacant office spaces, a phoenix is rising: co-working and incubation spaces. In a world where startups, freelancers, and small to medium-sized enterprises flourish, the demand for flexible, affordable workspaces is skyrocketing. And this demand, particularly in California’s buzzing business landscape, opens up a world of financial opportunities for the discerning investor.

Key Reasons to Consider Upgrading

More dynamic, shared workspaces have swiftly replaced the traditional office environment in recent years. The reasons behind this evolution are numerous and compelling. Increased global connectivity, the rise of remote work, the gig economy, and startup culture have all contributed to the demand for co-working spaces. The need for affordable, flexible office space is more prevalent than ever, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Therefore, upgrading your industrial property into a co-working or incubator space can prove to be a rewarding investment for several reasons:

  • High Demand: Co-working spaces are in high demand, particularly in tech hubs like California. They cater to the needs of freelancers, startups, and small businesses seeking affordable, flexible workspaces.
  • Community and Collaboration: Shared workspaces foster a sense of community and collaboration that can’t be achieved in traditional offices. They provide networking opportunities and a chance to collaborate with diverse professionals, making these areas attractive to firms and freelancers.
  • Flexible Revenue Streams: Co-working spaces provide multiple avenues for income, such as desk rentals, meeting rooms, event spaces, and service offerings like printing, food and beverages, and office supplies.
  • Adaptability: Shared workspaces can adapt to market changes by accommodating different types of businesses. If the demand for office space declines, the space can be repurposed as an event venue, training center, or creative studio.


  • The Port Workspaces, Oakland: This innovative co-working space transformed the Kaiser Center Mall into a modern office environment. The project is an excellent example of how repurposing unused spaces can meet the demand for flexible work options while generating lucrative returns. 
  • WeWork, San Francisco: Once a commercial warehouse, this space was transformed into a bustling co-working hub. This project illustrates the high demand for such areas and the potential for robust returns. 
  • Cross Campus, Los Angeles: A former manufacturing site in Downtown LA was transformed into a dynamic, state-of-the-art co-working space. The project is a testament to the increasing demand for vibrant, collaborative work environments in urban centers. 


For those keen to transform their commercial properties into co-working spaces, California offers several enticing incentives:

  1. Job Credits: Establishing co-working spaces often creates employment opportunities, making them eligible for job tax credits.
  2. Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs): Landlords may be eligible for financing that helps them make necessary improvements to create co-working spaces.
  3. Discretionary Incentives: Local governments may offer discretionary incentives to support projects they believe will benefit the local economy.

How to Get Started

The journey of transforming your commercial property into a co-working or incubator space can be exciting yet overwhelming. Here are some key considerations to help you get started:

  • Research and Market Understanding: Begin by understanding your local market. Who are your potential clients? What kind of space and amenities are they looking for? Research existing co-working areas to identify what works and what can be improved.
  • Property Evaluation: Evaluate your property’s location, size, and layout to determine if it is suitable for a co-working space. Accessibility, parking, and proximity to amenities like restaurants and cafes are important factors.
  • Design and Layout: Co-working spaces need a blend of private, semi-private, and open areas. Hiring an architect or interior designer who understands the needs of modern professionals can be advantageous.
  • Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Be aware of zoning laws and building codes that may apply to your property. Consult with a legal professional to understand any legal implications of transforming your property into a shared workspace.
  • Business Model: Decide on your pricing model. Will you offer monthly memberships, day passes, or both? Consider offering additional services for added revenue streams.
  • Partnerships and Alliances: Forming partnerships with local businesses such as cafes, gyms, and print shops can enhance the appeal of your co-working space and provide mutual benefits.
  • Marketing and Community Building: You must attract members once your space is ready. Engage in local networking events, use social media, and consider offering introductory discounts to draw in members.

Remember, each commercial property and market is unique, so what works for one space may not work for another. Tailoring your approach based on your specific circumstances and market research is essential.

Payback Period

Your initial estimate of the payback period for converting a vacant office space into a coworking space includes some key variables: location, size, and degree of renovations required. However, there are several other factors that could influence the payback period, and they should be considered when creating a business model or investment strategy for this type of project. Here are some additional factors to consider:

  1. Market Demand: This includes the area’s overall demand for coworking spaces. High demand can mean higher rental rates and occupancy, which can shorten the payback period. Look at current demand and future projections, keeping in mind industry trends, demographic shifts, and the effects of remote and flexible work policies.
  2. Competition: The presence of other coworking spaces in the same location could affect the demand for your space and the rental rates you can charge. High competition may extend the payback period.
  3. Operational Costs: These are ongoing costs such as utilities, maintenance, staff salaries, and marketing. Higher operational costs could extend the payback period.
  4. Tenant Retention Rates: The longer tenants stay, the less turnover and associated costs could shorten the payback period.
  5. Tax and Regulatory Environment: Local taxes and regulations could influence both the upfront conversion costs and the ongoing operational costs.
  6. Partnerships and Sponsorships: These could potentially lower costs or increase revenue. For example, a partnership with a local coffee shop could provide amenities to tenants at a lower cost.
  7. Technology and Infrastructure: The cost of setting up high-speed internet, phone lines, printing facilities, and other business amenities should be factored into the initial investment calculation.

Remember, the payback period is an estimate. It can be useful when comparing investment opportunities, but it should be used in conjunction with other financial metrics and qualitative considerations to make informed investment decisions.


From quiet hallways to the buzz of innovation, the journey from vacant offices to co-working and incubation spaces is a powerful story of transformation. The increasing demand, the potential for higher income, and such spaces’ role in fostering innovation make them a compelling investment opportunity. 

At Evoque Lending, we stand ready to empower your investment journey.