A photo of Serendipity Labs Bethesda, MD. Photo Credit: Brad LeBlanc/Serendipity Labs
NEW YORK CITY—Co-working firms Serendipity Labs Co-Working and UrWork have forged a partnership that will potentially have far-reaching implications for both firms by opening new markets with less capital.
Serendipity Labs, headquartered in Rye, NY and UrWork of Beijing, China announced their newly formed partnership has signed a 34,000-square-foot 16-year lease at 28 Liberty St., the former One Chase Manhattan Plaza tower in Manhattan’s Financial District owned by Chinese conglomerate Fuson. The co-working space marks Serendipity Labs’ and UrWork’s first location in New York City and what is believed to be UrWork’s entrance into the United States.
The new office is scheduled to open this October. The companies have also reached what they termed as a first-of-its-kind agreement for the co-working industry by interconnecting their respective co-working networks across the U.S. and China for members of both companies.
Serendipity Labs operates company-owned or franchise operations in Rye, NY, Stamford, CT, Ridgewood, NJ, Aventura, FL, Bethesda, MD and Chicago. A Columbus, OH location will open in August and a Nashville office is scheduled to open in November. A company spokesperson tells Globest.com the firm plans to open 10 additional U.S. locations by the end of this year. UrWork has grown to cover more than 78 locations in more than 20 cities in China, Singapore, and London and has pending locations in New York City and Los Angeles, servicing more than 3,000 enterprises and 30,000 members in total.
The Liberty Street office is a joint venture and the logos of both companies will co-brand the location. Serendipity Labs is the majority partner in the New York City office and UrWork is an investor in the location. The reservation systems of UrWork and Serendipity Labs will be connected by this summer so that members of both companies can make reservations throughout the China and the U.S. via their respective membership apps.
“Through this partnership, we are creating immediate value for our members without committing to extensive investments in overseas operations,” says John Arenas, CEO and founder of Serendipity Labs. “It provides our members seamless access to UrWork’s extensive network of locations, while offering their members upscale co-working when in the U.S. We are creating a new model for the co-working industry by establishing a network that can reach farther, faster.”
Mao Daqing, founder and CEO of UrWork, adds, “We are proud to be partnering with an industry leader in the United States at a location of this stature. Our members who wish to do business in the U.S. can expect an upscale, hospitality-based experience with Serendipity Labs, and we look forward to supporting Serendipity Labs members when business takes them to China.”
The investment in the New York City office will involve approximately $3.5 million in construction costs and including other costs, the project will total approximately $5.5 million.
JLL managing directors Michael Berman and John Wheeler represented Serendipity Labs Coworking in the 28 Liberty St. transaction. JLL also represented the building ownership in the transaction. Rocktree Capital’s Omer Ozden advised UrWork in the joint venture and its related transactions with Serendipity Labs.
Arenas founded Stratis Business Centers in 1996, which was acquired in 2001 by Regus where he then served as president and GM of Regus Americas, and later launched Worktopia, He opened the doors at Serendipity Labs Coworking back in 2011 and says the UrWork partnership is just part of his firm’s future expansion plans. Serendipity Labs has attracted more than $125 million in capital, including $24 million in private equity and boasts more than $100 million committed from its area franchise developers. At present the firm is growing through owned, managed and franchised locations in office buildings, high-rise residential projects, hotels and retail properties, with more than 100 locations currently under development, the company states.
Of the firm’s planned 10 new locations to be announced by the end of the year, approximately half will be company-owned and half will be from franchisees. Arenas tells Globest.com that a majority of its future growth will come from its franchise partners.
“For us expanding into Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and France are kind of markets we would be comfortable doing with a partner or doing on our own,” Arenas tells Globest.com. He adds that he is in discussions about entering the Canadian market and expects to have a Serendipity Labs location there open sometime in 2018.
UrWork recently announced a partnership with Australian consultancy firm Collective Campus to launch its first overseas branch in Singapore. The New York City office is believed to be its first in the United States, although the firm has also stated in press reports plans to establish a location in Los Angeles.