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Creative Workspace is Highlands in miniature
With growing popularity and a bustling collection of businesses, Creative Workspace has become a concentrated version of the Renton Highlands community itself.
Creative Workspace at 401 Olympia Ave. N.E., provides flexible business and recreation space.
“We’ve got a very unique little community here and we’d like everyone to know about it,” said property manager Eleanor Mitchell.
The facility houses about 135 units of varying sizes. Since opening in 2006, it has stayed about 80 percent occupied. The units come as a blank slate; tenants can essentially do what they want to customize them.
“We keep the cost really low, because what they’re getting is a pretty simple space,” said part owner Jeff Silesky. “People can make the spaces very compelling. They can do whatever they want, within reason.”
With a month-to-month lease structure that keeps risk low, there are several positives for small businesses. One is the networking possibilities among other tenants.
Brian Kushin, owner of Seattle Gold and Prospecting, gets his taxes done a few doors down from his business. He buys his insurance from the company next door. If customers come in asking about gold-mining trips to Alaska, he sends them to the travel agent on the other side. Kushin also utilizes Vince’s Coffee for meetings. He gets a place to meet, while Vince’s gets customers.
Silesky said Vince’s is a critical piece of the facility, because it gives the tenants and customers a central place to hang out and meet.
“It’s a very important amenity in the building because people can bring clients in, sit down, have some coffee,” he said. “It’s something that makes it more comfortable for a startup business.”
Expansion for businesses in the building is common.
“As they grow, they can progressively go up in size,” Mitchell said.
Highlands Naturopathic Physician, LLC, started with one unit and has expanded to six as the company has grown. It’s that flexibility and low risk that Silesky and Mitchell say makes Creative Workspace special.
“It’s not a huge commitment to get in and get going,” Mitchell said. “They can take the chance because they’re not losing a lot if it doesn’t work.”
The month-to-month approach also helps if there is a problem with a new tenant.
“We’re really sensitive as to how they will affect the other tenants, whether it’s noise or smells, or anything,” Silesky said. “It’s rare, but at times we have to ask people to leave because it didn’t work out.”
Moving to a different unit is also an option sometimes.
Silesky and his partners bought Renton Highland Self Storage, next to Creative Workspace, in the mid 90s. They bought the land that Creative Workspace stands on later, originally intending to expand with more storage. But with several storage facilities already in the area, they decided there wasn’t enough demand.
They first got the idea for Creative Workspace from Activspace in Seattle. Activspace offered small affordable office spaces.
“That was an interesting niche,” Silesky said. “Being in the storage business, this is kind of like people storage, only it’s more complicated.”
They soon discovered that most of their tenants were not people using the offices for crafts and hobbies as in Activspace, but small businesses.
“People are looking for more affordability and more people are starting their own business,” he said. “So it really serves a need to give people an opportunity to do that and customize their space how they want.”