DAVID GRASSO, 44, of Bella Vista, is a partner in Pipeline, a 22,000-square-foot co-working space that opened last month in Center City. Grasso, a real-estate developer who has developed waterfront condos and other commercial projects in the city and suburbs, built Pipeline on the 15th and 16th floors of the 25-story Graham Building he owns on 15th Street near Ranstead.
Q: How'd the idea for Pipeline originate?
A: Pipeline is a shared work space that started in Miami. Ours is a joint venture among the two Miami founders and myself and Tayyib Smith and Meegan Denenberg. I wanted co-working space that was more inspired than the rent-a-desk situation you have in some other spaces. I've always believed that bringing smart and innovative people together in a collaborative environment creates synergies. I wanted a space where Fortune 500 companies, startups and nonprofits could interact, share ideas and feed off each other.
Q: How much did you invest in this space?
A: We spent $2.5 million, and I put in about $1 million.
Q: The biz model?
A: We have 40 private suites [starting at $649 monthly] that go from 150 to 500 square feet. There are 150 shared desks [starting at $199 monthly] and 35 dedicated desks [starting at $449 monthly].
Q: Why are developers getting into the co-working area?
A: We've had inquiries from small companies that want a small suite in our building, and for a large office building it's hard to lease somebody small offices. I wanted to provide that option. As a real-estate professional, this allows me to bring people to Pipeline, and it becomes a feeder for the rest of the building.
Q: The value prop?
A: Access to public transit is second-to-none here. We've got Dilworth Plaza across the street. This area is seeing a resurgence, and the building next to us is being converted into high-end, multifamily residences. So locationally, I feel like we're superior.
Q: How many members do you have, and who are they?
A: We have large and small businesses. The [John S. and James L.] Knight Foundation recently leased several private offices and some shared desks. We have several real-estate-brokerage firms, a lobbyist group and Philly Game Labs.
Q: You've also hired somebody to program events?
A: That's part of our model, so we do regular public and private events. Upcoming events include a panel discussion on "Hip-Hop's Golden Age and Philly" and an economy forum with the Center City District.
Q: How big a business?
A: About 10 employees. We're 30 percent occupied, and our goal is to be 80 percent occupied in six months.