Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Historic downtown Sumter building converted into coworking space

BY KAYLA ROBINS kayla@theitem.com
Posted 12/12/19

He knows it's going to catch on.

All the big cities have them. All the small ones do, too, that have gone through successful revitalization, but his explanation is still usually met with a polite Southern, "Huh?"

Renovated and remodeled in a …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Historic downtown Sumter building converted into coworking space

Posted

He knows it’s going to catch on.

All the big cities have them. All the small ones do, too, that have gone through successful revitalization, but his explanation is still usually met with a polite Southern, “Huh?”

Renovated and remodeled in a building on Law Range that held 100-plus years of Reynolds family lawyers sits an office that is ready to host multiple businesses. At the same time. The Office is a coworking space, a modern set-up in a historic unit that offers entrepreneurs, freelancers, teleworkers and other independent professionals a place to operate around other people in an office setting, have their own desk and storage and share a communal setting.

Coworking is a trend that has gained popularity in recent years, with the most high-profile brands being WeWork, though that company recently fell from fame after suffering financial losses.

Art Bradham named and runs the renovated space next to his tax services office. He imagines people getting out of the house, out of the spare bedroom-turned home office, out from the dining table multitasking as a conference room and into a professional workspace with little overhead and no long-term rental contracts.

“We have the opportunity to provide something besides raw space,” Bradham said.

While coworkers have to pay to enter what Bradham is calling a shared services agreement, they don’t have to worry about signing a rental contract, paying bills or buying equipment.

Shared services include wifi, a printer, copier and fax machine, access to host conferences, a place to keep computers and documents and a communal kitchen. Coworkers are able to share the services of the receptionist at Bradham’s office during business hours, which includes accepting packages and mail and taking messages.

“Just having a permanent address gives so much credibility to you and your business, and working at home doesn’t always do that,” he said.

Coworkers have access to The Office 24/7.

Plus, it’s downtown, where professionals can walk to lunch or errands instead of having to leave home or pack up and lose their space at the coffee shop to run out for an hour or a day.

The space is lined with shelves that smell of new wood at each of the three workspaces. Set off to the side of the main room at 3 Law Range is a heavy bank-like door. When the building was constructed more than 100 years ago, fire was a concern. Offices had document safes that were small storage rooms enclosed in thick brick.

A small kitchen boasts a fridge, coffee maker and sink across from ceiling-to-floor bookcases filled with law reference books all titled to Reynolds spanning back to the late 1800s.

Christie Stutz, marketing director for Bradham, said renovation finished in the spring on the space.

“We’re kind of at the point where it’s make us an offer, and we will work with you,” she said about whether coworkers would use the space for a day at a time or a week or longer.

Bradham said he saw an article in The State announcing a Chicago-based company purchased a 12-story building in downtown Columbia to convert into coworking space. The Office is smaller, but he thinks Sumter both needs it downtown, where new business and restaurants and apartments have already sparked a renewal of the Central Business District surrounding Main Street, and will want it in its storyline.

“If I’m five years ahead of its time, that’s fine,” he said.

He knows it’s going to catch on.

“I’ve never been wrong,” he said, “about something I didn’t do.”