City of Woodstock Old Courthouse and Sheriff's House Advisory Commission met April 17.
City of Woodstock Old Courthouse and Sheriff's House Advisory Commission met April 17.
Here is the minutes provided by the Commission:
A Regular Meeting of the City of Woodstock Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House Advisory Commission was called to order at 7:00 pm by Vice-Chairman David Stumpf on Monday, April 17, 2017 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
A roll call was taken.
Commission Members Present: Lynde Anderson, Jim Campion, Joseph White, and Vice-Chairman David Stumpf.
Commission Members Absent: Donovan Day, Jim Prindiville, and Chairman Dennis Sandquist.
Staff Present: City Planner/Staff Liaison Nancy Baker, Economic Development Director Garrett Anderson, and Grant Writer Terry Willcockson
Others Present: City Clerk Cindy Smiley, Friends of the Old Courthouse Board Members Tom Ellinghausen and Susan Stelford, and McHenry County Community Development Administrator Hans Mach.
Approval of Minutes Motion by J. Campion, second by J. White, to approve the minutes of the March 20, 2017 Regular Meeting as presented.
Ayes: L. Anderson, J. Campion, J. White, and Vice-Chairman D. Stumpf. Nays: none. Absentees: D. Day, J. Prindiville, and Chairman D. Sandquist. Abstentions: none. Motion carried.
IV. Public Comment
Darrell Moore, 520 South Jefferson, noted a discussion of co-work space was on this evening’s agenda and stated his complete support of this usage in the Old Courthouse. He stated there are many opportunities and advantages for this type of use going into the Old Courthouse and expressed his hope that the Commission gives this its full consideration
V. Co-Working Presentiaton by Mara Hauser,
Founder and CEO Of 25N Coworking
Mara Hauser, Founder and CEO of 25N Coworking, and her associate Megan, Director of Member Engagement, made a Powerpoint presentation on coworking and 25N, giving background on themselves and the creation of the company. Ms. Hauser stated she formerly developed corporate real estate that supplied support and space for up to 200 people in a large building. She noted the industry changed and that opened up the co-work world which began about 10 years ago and had a big boom about 5 years ago. Ms. Hauser described how she developed the first location in Geneva with a business plan for 40 locations. She noted Geneva opened first about 2 1⁄2 years ago, with Arlington Heights becoming the 2nd location.
Ms. Hauser described how the co-work space worked, with the various types of spaces that are available to members, including common and collaborative space. She also described some of the types of groups which make up 25N’s members including independent professionals, small to medium-size businesses, local organizations, people who formerly worked from home, corporations some of which are downsizing their physical offices, large international corporations wishing to establish a branch office without acquiring real estate, entrepreneurs, and start-ups.
Ms. Hauser described Megan’s role of Director of Member Engagement and its importance to the success of the co-work space.
Ms. Hauser described the development of both the Geneva and Arlington Heights locations, noting the similarities and differences between the locations. She noted the Geneva facility is located in a former historic building and presented slides of how this was transformed into a co-work space. She then noted the Arlington Heights location was a 12,000-sq. ft. former hotel. Ms. Hauser stated while the Arlington Heights location just opened in January, they have already had to turn down 3 teams of 25 people, all private office space has been sold out, and they will make their 9-month projections in 3 months.
Ms. Hauser stated one of the primary models is to find an underutilized core of a building in central business district that is looking for economic development. She noted the co-work space helps businesses grow while helping other surrounding businesses from the increased traffic created by the co-work members or by providing something they can do for the members. She noted the example of the Director of Member Engagement ordering lunches from the surrounding restaurants which are delivered to and paid for by the members. She also noted surrounding and area businesses come in to the co-work space to provide services to assist the members such as business and financial seminars, stating this is a perfect atmosphere to get all these people together to build their businesses.
Megan stated the co-work space industry is a thriving, worldwide community. She discussed 25N’s membership in LexC, an organization made of up other co-work space operators around the world which provides 25N’s members with access to other co-work space worldwide as part of their membership in 25N. She noted when these 25N members travel to areas served by these other co-work spaces, it is as if they have an office in Boston, New York, or France for example. In addition, she noted this group provides mentoring and collaboration between its members.
Ms. Hauser described how she creates co-work spaces with independent developers, noting she has seven projects she is working on presently. She then discussed how they do various analyses to develop these spaces and stated she partners with a local building owner to build a collaborative community to help the businesses that are there. She noted this a new model of working, noting today people work in many ways, but traditional workplaces are not adapting and stated 25N is creating work spaces today for tomorrow’s workplace. She stated the co-work spaces are designed with the people who will use them and the community in mind.
Ms. Hauser then explained the various ways people work in this environment. She noted there are five co-work space must haves: 1) flexible options for work spaces; 2) collaborative spaces and meeting rooms; 3) community engagement; 4) events & programs; 5) a community culture. Ms. Hauser stated there are two meetings held each week including educational seminars such as using social media and marketing and stated there are also branded and member events, all of which create community and culture. She noted the co-work environment allows its members to make many connections they would not be able to make otherwise.
Ms. Hauser then cited various co-work space statistics stating co-working has increased 83% worldwide with approximately half the people working doing so in a co-working environment. She stated 50% of her members work for a corporation. She displayed a map of the co-work spaces available in the Chicagoland area and noted the many media outlets which have featured co-work stories.
Ms. Hauser described the various levels of 25N’s memberships, their costs, and what the members receive at each level, noting there are various services included in the upper levels of membership that are available ala carte by the hour to lower levels such as meeting room rental. She described the sophisticated technology and equipment that is available to the members, including an on-line booking system. She described how the Chamber of Commerce is located in one of 25N’s facilities and how not-for-profit entities use its facilities.
Ms. Hauser noted the goal of the co-work space is to help grow the member’s business, stating 86% of the members report business growth after 3 months in the space. She stated this is growing local business and increasing revenue and foot traffic for the community. She stated the 25N co- work space brings members to Geneva from 27 different towns. She noted the goal is to always make sure people can afford to come in and use the co-work space.
Vice-Chairman Stumpf thanked Ms. Hauser for her presentation and opened the floor to comments and questions.
In response to a question from Mr. Campion, Ms. Hauser stated Arlington Heights was chosen for the 2nd location because she grew up in Arlington Heights and was watching it as it is on the cusp of redevelopment. She noted she looks for a sense of community and culture in the central business community stating community and culture is really big for them. She also looks for a central business community that has a lot of restaurants and a train station in the downtown. She stated that Arlington Heights was very open and willing to discuss the co-work concept. She further noted it is her hope that Arlington Heights will be the hub of a group of regional co-work facilities.
Commissioner Anderson opined this is a very interesting concept and asked Ms. Hauser’s opinion of the Old Courthouse. Ms. Hauser replied that she loved it and would want to keep the intent and history of the building such as the chandelier. She noted she has created a co-work space in a historic building and can imagine one in the Old Courthouse, stating it would need an elevator and bathrooms. She opined it would be fabulous and described how such a building in Geneva spurred development in the area bringing restaurants, coffee shops, and service businesses to the area.
In response to a question from Vice-Chairman Stumpf concerning the next steps Ms. Hauser felt is in order should the City wish to pursue this use, Ms. Hauser stated a feasibility study would be important as well as having a floor plan. She suggested holding a strategic planning session to find out what the needs are and what the competitive landscape is. She opined a needs assessment could be done and then a determination made as to how this fits into the floor plan. Concerning costs, she stated an effort should be made to determine how much this would cost, including construction and build-out and expenses, and how revenue would be derived.
Noting Ms. Hauser has studied the TAP report and read Commission minutes, Vice-Chairman Stumpf asked Ms. Hauser to discuss the arts in relation to the co-work use concept. Ms. Hauser urged the Commission to look into the Water Street Studio in Batavia. She also stated there are many co-work spaces that do a combination of arts plus other things. She noted if the City decides they wish to have art space as a component, this could be part of the model that is built into the program.
In response to a question from Commissioner Anderson concerning the market for co-work space in Woodstock, Ms. Hauser stated she would want to talk to the Chamber of Commerce and the real estate community. She opined that it is critical to get the Chamber in the space and that events are held to make the facility very visible. She further opined it has to do with what the City’s passion and vision is and what kind of engagement the City wants to have.
Commissioner White stated this is a unique project noting the Old Courthouse needs a significant amount of work. He asked Ms. Hauser if she would bring in companies to make investments in the community and whether she has worked with a very old building, noting the first half of the project would be a lot of construction.
Ms. Hauser opined this would give the City a lot of time to build awareness of the project and use. She provided information on how the 25N facility was a complete rehab of a bank that had been empty for six years and had serious ADA issues. She stated her feeling that the space in the Old Courthouse is amazing.
Commissioner White asked Ms. Hauser’s opinion as to what percentage of the building the 25N co-work space would be occupying and whether she felt the co-work space would be the anchor.
Ms. Hauser stated in an ideal world 25N would manage the entire space and would facilitate use of the building. She stated this does not mean co-work people would occupy the entire building but that 25N would manage all of the space. She noted the idea would be to find some anchor tenants of the co-work community during the development phase and opined the building would need the Chamber and government offices to make this work.
In response to further questioning from Commissioner Anderson, Ms. Hauser stated the model for 25N would be that they do the design and manage the build out and construction. She stated they do not own the building or pay rent, noting the building owner brings them in to manage the building. She stated the revenue comes back to the owner, with shared earnings based on projections. Ms. Hauser stated 25N also creates and manages the community and culture of the co-work space.
In response to a question from Vice-Chairman Stumpf concerning community engagement, Ms. Hauser discussed the various events that are held each week at 25N and also how they use community and non-profit events. She noted they do a lot of partnerships where they host events for other organizations, noting several not-for-profits which use their space and to which they provide a discount including CASA, Girls Who Code, and Fox Valley Preservationists.
In response to a question from Vice-Chairman Stumpf, there was no comment forthcoming from the Public
A discussion ensued of any future agenda items related to this project. In response to a question from Vice-Chairman Stumpf, Ms. Hauser stated she could do a plan to see what would work but would need more information and facts in order to prepare a proposal. She stated she would need a CAD file, noting if one is not available she could hire a firm to create one as part of her contract.
Noting only four commissioners are present this evening, Commissioner White opined more members are needed to have a healthy discussion of this project.
Vice-Chairman Stumpf agreed but expressed his wish to have information as to how to proceed. He requested City staff to find out what kind of information is available to provide to Ms. Hauser.
In response to a question from Commissioner Anderson, Ms. Hauser stated she cannot quote a cost for a feasibility study without more information, noting with more information she also could also create a timeline.
In response to Vice-Chairman Stumpf’s suggestion, it was the consensus of the Commission that City Staff work with 25N about creating a road map involving what kind of information can be provided to them and what 25N would need and bring this back to the Commission as a report at the next Commission meeting.
The Commission thanked Ms. Hauser and her associate for her presentation and presence this evening.
VI. Arts Use Report
Ms. Baker noted the recommendations made by ArtSpace and stated one question is what is the City looking at as an arts use. She talked about what some of these could be. She opined there are many ways the two concepts, art space and co-work, can be dovetailed.
Commissioner White opined nothing can move forward until the investment puzzle is solved, noting until it is, money cannot be spent as the City is not ready to pump a lot of money into the building. He stated the City is doing the right thing about making repairs but does not have money to invest. Mr. White stated his opinion that Ms. Hauser’s presentation was a sales pitch, noting his feeling there are more vendors out there than just 25N. He expressed his frustration that the Commission is now talking with sales people when there still is no money. He stated this must be addressed.
Vice-Chairman Stumpf stated his agreement that the Commission lacks enough information as to what the interest would be but noted when 25N did an assessment they would find out what the demand is for this use and would be generating the answers to Commissioner White’s questions. He opined the City needs help “getting from here to there.”
Commissioner Campion opined the big issue is who is going to pay for the repairs, etc. He stated he sees the Commission’s role as recommending a type of use that would work. He stated after learning more about co-work space, he feels this would be a good use just as art space and a restaurant are good uses. He opined the Commission can tell the Council whether they feel co- work space is a viable use and put this on the table also. He again expressed his feeling a co-work space would be a good use for the building with art space in a good portion of the building.
Commission White agreed a community arts facility would be a good use from looking at the public survey.
Vice-Chairman Stumpf agreed with Ms. Baker’s statement that art space can be aligned with a co- work space and stated it should be determined how many people would pay rent to make this viable.
Commissioner White opined City Hall would be perfect as a co-work space but expressed doubt that the Old Courthouse would be.
Vice-Chairman Stumpf stated he would like the Friends of the Old Courthouse to report on their fundraising efforts thus far.
Wendy Piersoll, 675 Oak Street, noted she is the target audience for this project as it is exactly what she needs to expand her business. She expressed her agreement with Ms. Hauser’s statement that a demand needs to be created, opining if more business people in Woodstock saw this evening’s presentation the demand would be created. Ms. Piersoll stated there are 1,000 single- owner businesses in Woodstock. Garrett Anderson provided more information on Ms. Piersoll’s statement, noting only 1⁄4 of these single-owner businesses have a brick and mortar facility.
In response, Vice-Chairman Stumpf noted the City may wish to have some type of event or public engagement concerning co-work space as was done for art space, having 25N come back to make a presentation, stating perhaps the Chamber could help organize this. He opined this could be as helpful as a study
VII. Future Use Research Updates and Discussion
Noting that Commissioner Day is not present this evening, Vice-Chairman Stumpf requested that his report be included in the May agenda.
VIII. Staff Updates
N. Baker noted on tomorrow evening’s City Council agenda are three contracts for proposals for the Old Courthouse. She explained each of these and discussed what is needed for the Community Development Block Grant.
G. Anderson stated the City is working on a Downtown Development Plan which is a priority for the City Council. He explained this further, noting he will come back to the Commission with further information at the next meeting.
IX. Future Agenda Items
Vice-Chairman Stumpf noted the Downtown Plan Presentation by Mr. Anderson will be placed on the May agenda as well as an update on fundraising by the Friends of the Old Courthouse.
Other items noted for inclusion in the May agenda were Staff’s suggestions on the next steps for 25N and also some suggestions for holding a public community engagement event involving 25N and the Chamber.
Motion by J. White, second by L. Anderson, to adjourn this regular meeting of the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House Advisory Commission to the next regular meeting on Monday, May 15, 2017 at 7:00PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Ayes: L. Anderson, J. Campion, J. White, and Vice-Chairman D. Stumpf. Nays: none. Abstentions: none. Absentees: D. Day, J. Prindiville, and Chairman D. Sandquist. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.