Sneak Peek: American Underground’s new downtown co-working space to open on Monday

The main desk area of the new downtown co-working space Gridworks Durham.
The main desk area of the new downtown co-working space Gridworks Durham. The Herald-Sun

American Underground’s newest expansion, a co-working space aimed at small businesses and professionals rather than high-growth tech startups, is set to open its doors on Monday, April 10, in the historic S.H. Kress & Co. Building in downtown.

The new co-working space, which is called Gridworks Durham, gives the tech incubator its fourth campus in downtown Durham — though Gridworks will operate independently of AU.

Co-working spaces have grown in popularity in recent years as a viable solution for small companies that don’t want to spend highly and commit to years-long building leases, as well as for freelance workers who don’t have a permanent office. AU is hoping that Gridworks will be attractive to those in that demographic who want to work in Durham’s core yet don’t want to make a long-term commitment to one space.

“The reason why people would be interested in Gridworks Durham is a couple of reasons,” said Garrett Wood, director of leasing at AU. “I think one, just being right here in the heart of downtown Durham, you have a multitude of great restaurants and cultural amenities within walking distance of you — and, two, I think it gives people a place to plug into a community, both with people that they are living and playing around but also a community that they can learn from professionally.”

The entry rate for a month-to-month lease at Gridworks will be $299 — a membership price that is higher than the comparable package at AU, which typically goes for $215. Smaller offices are available for $599 per month and private offices for three to four people go for $1,300 to $1,999 per month. The more expensive memberships come with available parking spots.

Gridworks will take up 7,000 square feet on the Kress Building’s mezzanine floor, and it will have several conference rooms, 18 private offices for use and an open-concept area with 75 work spaces. It will also have traditional office amenities, such as a kitchen and bar and mailboxes.

The Art Deco-inspired Kress Building, located at 103 W. Main St., was built in 1933, according to county records. The building operated as a department store until the 1970s and was subsequently turned into a bank, which is now closed, as well as condominiums.

AU has experience in redeveloping historic buildings, such as the Kress Building, for space. The startup hub’s @Market location, which opened in 2015, is located in the circa-1920 Trust Building at 212 W. Main St.

The upper limit for the number of members that can lease the space will be around 200 users, though not all of those users will be able to use the space at the same time. About 50 to 75 people could realistically use the office at one time, AU’s Chief Strategist Adam Klein told The Herald-Sun earlier this year.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes