Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Common, The Co-Living Startup

[ed. Paying more for less. Seems to be a 'common' theme in America these days.]

Common, a co-living startup from General Assembly co-founder Brad Hargreaves, is unveiling its first building today in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. With more than four floors and 7,300 square feet of space, the building has 19 private bedrooms costing anywhere from $1,800 to $1,950. Along with the private rooms, comes four communal kitchens, a large dining room, work space and a roof deck.

The Common opening comes at a time when venture-backed companies like WeWork are piling into co-living as a way to use urban residential space more cost-efficiently and to attract Millennials, who are delaying marriage and families later and later. In New York, older tenant laws control the number of tenants that can be listed on a lease, and brokers often charge upwards of a month’s rent to find apartments. That makes it difficult for newcomers to find housing easily compared to other American cities. On the property owner side, Common’s pitch is that they can partner to purchase whole vacant buildings and turn them into stable, market-rate income streams while removing the hassles of leasing and property management.

Over the summer, Common partnered with a local New York City real estate developer to buy Crown Heights building earlier this year. They invested a little less than $1 million in re-modeling the space.

They kept four suites or units in tact, but opened up large dining and work areas. “The whole idea here is is to use common areas and activate typically under-utilized space,” Hargreaves told me in a video tour via Skype.

Common built in several smart phone features like Bluetooth door locks compatible with keycards, phones and the Apple watch, and Nest thermostats. Through Hargreaves’ connections, they added mattresses from the startup Casper, along with furniture from Restoration Hardware and West Elm.

“Aesthetically, I would say it’s mid-century Modern with some Hudson Valley Americana built into it,” he said. “We wanted to evoke the neighborhood as well. A lot of the art is from Crown Heights and the furniture are things you would find in a traditional Brownstone.”

Services include free laundry, regular deliveries of coffee, tea and paper towels, and weekly cleanings in bathrooms and common areas. Utilities and wi-fi is baked into the price.

For the communal element, Common is bringing in Sunday potlucks and other kinds of event programming. He partnered with his old General Assembly co-founder Matthew Brimer, who went on to create the morning dance party Daybreaker. They’re bringing in Common residents to the next one.

by Kim-Mai Cutler, Techcrunch |  Read more:
Image: uncredited