By JOHN MOORHOUSE
Jennifer Vincent hopes the former Oddfellows Hall in Penticton could find new life as a unique modern cowork office building.
The distinctive white, block-style building at the corner of Eckhardt Avenue and Ellis Street was constructed in the 1940s as a church. It was converted to the Oddfellows Hall in the mid-1970s and continued under that use until 2003. Since then it has been utilized for various dance and physical activity classes, wedding receptions and other special events.
Now Vincent wants to establish Cowork Penticton in the building, through a lease agreement with current property owners Nikos and Linda Theodosakis, making shared office space available to a number of individuals or small operations.
A proposed zoning text amendment has received initial support from council, with a public hearing to be held Feb. 20 at City Hall.
Vincent said the coworking office concept has been gaining popularity world-wide since it was introduced in California’s Silicon Valley about seven years ago.
“A bunch of independent workers, mostly technology entrepreneurs, had been working from home and found that really isolating,” she said. “So they started to consolidate resources and share open plan space and work together.”
Office space then becomes much more affordable, but also creates a vibrant and collaborative office environment.
Vincent said at Cowork Penticton, space can be rented for as short as one day, or for months at a time.
Plans call for the main hall to feature an open workspace for up to 30 freelance professionals. Some private offices and meeting rooms will also be available, as well as a lounge area and full kitchen.
“The idea is to keep it fairly open and flexible,” she said. “The small meeting rooms are ideal for people to take a phone conversation in there or a meeting with somebody.”
Vincent said interaction with the business person working beside you is a key component.
“It’s an interesting model. Successful co-working stations globally have been open plan,” she said. “It doesn’t suit everybody’s business, that’s for sure, but it has certainly suited a lot. People have found they really don’t need a door in the long run.”
Pending final zoning approval from council, Vincent said she hopes to have Cowork Penticton open by the first of April.