Behind the Glass, Public SPACE Coworking Opens in Newark to Nurture Tech Community

Photo: Public SPACE from the outside. Photo Credit: Courtesy CITI Medina
Public SPACE from the outside. | Courtesy CITI Medina

Commuters hurrying to catch a train in Newark often use a concourse through the office building 2 Gateway Center that passes by Public SPACE, the newest offshoot of =SPACE, a coworking facility with a tech focus.

Opened on July 1, Public SPACE is a beautifully designed workspace set behind a wall of glass established with the tech community in mind. C&K Properties (New York), the owners of 2 Gateway Center, partnered with =SPACE to create this coworking option. The venue, located where some 10,000 commuters and local office workers pass by each week, should induce some of those commuters to stay in Newark to work.

“=SPACE continues to be a major advocate for Newark’s innovators and entrepreneurs by connecting startups to others in the community through its events,” said Ben Korman, cofounder and principal of C&K Properties, in a release.

 “Public SPACE not only provides a place where all corners of the local tech scene can collaborate, but also a place where members of the public can get a glimpse into the newest products and trends in the market.”

The =SPACE shared facility includes an art gallery and conference room, and has an industrial vibe. The Public SPACE add-on has a different look, however. “We wanted to build something that was completely transparent,” said Medina, who cofounded the venue with Rafael Roman and Sean Hairston.

“We wanted to show the people passing through that there are black and brown startups and women ventures working every day. We decided to show them both our coworking communities and our programs.”

Photo: The "Great Spring Meetup" took place in Public SPACE last week. Photo Credit: Courtesy CITI Medina
The "Great Spring Meetup" took place in Public SPACE last week. | Courtesy CITI Medina

During its “soft launch,” Public SPACE hosted April Walker, one of the first females to create an urban clothing brand in the 1990s, Medina said. “One of our community members did a live-audience podcast in Public SPACE, and there were five to 10 people who just walked in from seeing it happen. And that was on a Sunday!”

The Public SPACE interior was done by Newark company Atlas Desk, whose interior designer, Gerardy Cabrera, “actually sat with us for a month,” Medina continued. And then, “Rebecca Parra helped us see what the ergonomics of the space should be and how many stations we would need. The place is decorated with works by Newark artists.”

Photo: Public SPACE is decorated with art from Newark artists. Photo Credit: Courtesy CITI Medina
Public SPACE is decorated with art from Newark artists. | Courtesy CITI Medina

Medina, Roman and Hairston are supporting the Newark community in a number of ways, one of which is an extensive internship program. “We currently run an internship program with Newark youth, and it’s part of their actual curriculum to come in twice a week, alternating weeks, to learn what it is to be part of startup culture,” said Medina. “They learn about social media strategy and how to be community managers. Eventually they become strong enough to blog and create content that is being used by =SPACE and the community.”

Another way =SPACE is supporting the community is through partnerships. “We’ve partnered with the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation, we’ve partnered with Fownders and we are hosting a speaking series with the Black and Latino Tech Initiative, out of Rutgers University. The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation just started an amazing ‘Moms Who Hustle’ program. The cohort will be coming here to listen to speakers and then, when they graduate, they’ll be using our space.”

Photo: Public SPACE from the inside Photo Credit: Courtesy CITI Medina
Public SPACE from the inside | Courtesy CITI Medina

Public SPACE aims to provide a center where digital creatives as well as tech-oriented and other entrepreneurial startups can learn about and engage each other through a variety of programs, including lectures, roundtables, live demonstrations and workshops.

Moreover, Public SPACE is looking to house startups that are “eager and hungry and want to plant their roots in Newark,” Medina said. He added that the building has very high-speed internet for tech companies and that the high speeds make it easier for them to do video presentations. “In Public SPACE we have two 55-inch flat screens that join together.”

The coworking spaces have also been pulling in some workers from other fields, such as real estate and architecture. “They want to work here because we are so ideally located.” You may need to go to New York for meetings, and you can be on the train within minutes, Medina said. “You can be going to DC and you can stay with us until close to your flight time or when you’re Acela is going to leave.”

C&K Properties has created a conference center with full multimedia facilities that the startups and others at Public SPACE can use. “They have two 80-inch flat screens, microphones and cameras. They even have a ceiling camera that lets you move down onto a conference table to show your paperwork or floorplans,” Medina said. =SPACE has been handling the conference room setup. “We were actually booked by some investment teams from Bitcoin who used the SPACE for a working session.”

Medina added that =SPACE is now revamping its original coworking venue in the Max Blau building, on Market Street, to offer two- and three-person office suites. “We are calling it ‘Suite SPACE.’ We’ll make it affordable at $1,000/month, with conference rooms, a lounge, a café and gaming area.”

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