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Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas said the company plans to open up to four more co-working labs in the Greater Orlando area.
Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas said the company plans to open up to four more co-working labs in the Greater Orlando area. (staff)

National co-working company Serendipity Labs is already on the hunt for more office space in greater Orlando following the successful launch of the first lab in downtown's CNL Tower in April.

The company initially leased the entire third floor of the building -- 27,000 square feet -- at 450 S. Orange Ave. and built out a combination of open work spaces, team rooms and private offices. Now it's already taken an additional 3,600 square feet on the ground floor, scheduled to open in about six months.

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John Arenas, chairman and CEO of the company that now operates in 24 markets, told GrowthSpotter Serendipity Labs hopes to replicate the "hub and spoke" formula that has allowed it to capture market share in cities, like New York and Atlanta.

Serendipity Labs occupies the entire third floor of downtown Orlando's CNL Tower. Each co-working lab has its own cafe and collaborative workspaces, but 70 percent of the lab is dedicated to private offices and meeting rooms.
Serendipity Labs occupies the entire third floor of downtown Orlando's CNL Tower. Each co-working lab has its own cafe and collaborative workspaces, but 70 percent of the lab is dedicated to private offices and meeting rooms. (staff)

The company, or its franchisee, typically opens a downtown co-working space first and expands to the suburbs to create a regional network. At full buildout, the company expects to operate up to five labs in Greater Orlando.

"We're looking for more space in Orlando already," Arenas said. "We should be making an announcement in about a month for our next location in Lake Mary. We're also looking to be somewhere in the tourism corridor and north of downtown, likely Winter Park."

The company is expanding nationally through a combination of corporate and franchised locations. It has 34 co-working labs open now and 100 more in the pipeline. Orlando's franchisee is 3H Group, which is based in Tennessee and has two hotels in metro area.

Serendipity Labs offers a combination of meeting rooms, private offices and open workspaces at its downtown Orlando co-working space in CNL Tower. All meeting rooms are soundproof and use frosted glass to ensure privacy.
Serendipity Labs offers a combination of meeting rooms, private offices and open workspaces at its downtown Orlando co-working space in CNL Tower. All meeting rooms are soundproof and use frosted glass to ensure privacy. (YALE GURNEY PICTURES /)

"Our franchises are all owned by hotel developers," Arenas said. "The staff they hire comes from a hospitality background. You see that translate to how they dress and how they greet people. It's the idea that we're here to deliver on promises, to surprise and delight, and to exceed expectations."

Each location costs about $1.5 million to outfit. Serendipity manufactures its own glass partition systems, furniture and lighting packages.

"The color schemes and palettes may changed based on the location, but the experience is the same," Arenas said.

While co-working spaces still appeal to small businesses and individuals, they have evolved over recent years to become an attractive alternative for large corporations looking for turnkey, Class A space to operate satellite offices without having to sign a long-term lease.

Natalie Snyder Bode, an office-tenant relations specialist with Cushman & Wakefield, spoke about the trend last year at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Las Vegas. She said tech companies gravitate to co-working spaces for strategic reasons, too.

"The blue-chip tech companies, the reason they are taking down these large co-working spaces is also to recruit talent that's in those spaces already," she said. "They're also looking at whether there are any tech start-ups they want to acquire."

Arenas said that half of the company's members are from larger enterprises. In Orlando, that includes national real estate giant, Zillow. "They're using us because they don't want to take out leases for under 10,000 square feet anymore."

Orlando's robust job market has drawn interest from national co-working brands WeWork and E|SPACES, which has leased 28,500 square feet in the new SunTrust Tower at Church Street Plaza. Miami-based Pipeline has leased the 11th floor of the Center State Bank building at 20 N. Orange Ave. Other brands in the market include Factur, Canvs, Catalyst, CoLab and FIT Workspaces.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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