The former Coventry School has a new tenant.
The Open Office is celebrating its grand opening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and founder Andrew Auten wants residents to come check out the new space.
The company provides a coworking environment and professional office space for people who normally work from home or coffee shops.
“Hey, I love Phoenix ... but at the same time it’s not always that conducive to producing. We want to provide a work space that’s larger than a café table and has a reliable, secure wi-fi connection,” Auten said in an interview in January. “That’s what we want to offer — a third space that’s not (the coffee shop) and not your home.”
The approved a conditional use permit for in the old elementary school at its meeting January 11, and the company .
The approved a lease for 4,000 square feet at $2,167 per month , as the district still owns the school. But a requires that the company also be granted a conditional use permit, which spells out rules and guidelines for using the old elementary school.
Auten said his company offers about 10 cubicles, a large, open work space that can accommodate 20 people or more at big library tables, two conference rooms for meetings of 10 to 12 people, and three smaller rooms for two to four people.
Event space can also be reserved for as many as 100 people.
Printers, scanners and fax machines are available, and there are phones in the conference rooms. People can rent lockers to store their belongings.
"This is going to be our first location. I did a lot of building hunting and location scouting for the last 12 months, and we just have always liked Cleveland Heights, and in particular, we like Coventry," said Auten, who lives in Shaker Heights. "There’s just a lot of people who work from their homes in the area, too."
In a proposal Auten sent to the City of Cleveland Heights, he wrote, "Two cities that stand out are Cleveland Heights with 1,050 and Shaker Heights with 787 self-employed entrepreneurs. The Cuyahoga County has over 14,000 solo-entrepreneurs. The Open Office will focus on self-employed professionals in business and finance, computer and mathematics, security, arts, design and media fields."
Consultants in a variety of industries who work out of their home, freelancers and accountants have expressed interest in the space, he said.
"We really want to be a great service for people who are in that one-to two-person office or have struck out by themselves," he said.
Steve Presser, owner of and marketing director for the Coventry Village Special Improvement District, wrote a letter to Howard Thompson, economic development director for the city, and expressed the district's support of this decision.
"The Open Office fits in quite nicely with the needs of the nearby community and also beyond, with small home businesses cropping up all over the place," Presser wrote.
The Open Office offers part-time (five or 10 days a month), full-time and "dedicated desk" memberships as well as conference room rentals. The capacity is 150 members, but Auten imagines that no more than 40 people will work there at any given time.
The company sells memberships, which range from $45 to $250 a month, on its website. Day passes are also available. The space is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Auten will help manage the entire operations of Coventry School and make sure big events from the other tenants — , , and — don't conflict.
Thompson said The Open Office will contribute to the synergy he hopes to foster in the building. For example, parents who work at The Open Office could drop off their children at the Cleveland Sight Center daycare or at a writing workshop at Lake Erie Ink.
Cleveland Heights resident Matt Laferty, who attended the Planning Commission meeting, said he hopes The Open Office brings more professionals to the area who want to shop and dine in Coventry Village.
"I support any and all businesses that bring people to my neighborhood ... those businesses and that neighborhood are why we moved here."