COhatch, a company specializing in the creation of coworking spaces, has submitted plans to establish a new location in Zionsville at the corner of Main and Poplar streets, in a building known as The Sanctuary.
The 10,822-square-foot, two-story building at 75 N. Main St. was built as a church in 1854. It was rebuilt in 1895 and has served as office space, a retail shop and community center. Zionsville artist Nancy Noel, who died last year, most recently used the building as an art gallery. Noel’s son Michael Kosene said the family has been trying to sell the building for the last six years.
“The last six years, it has been a dark building. It has been a dark hole on Main Street, frankly,” Kosene, a real estate professional, said at an April 7 Zionsville Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. “It was hard to see, especially (after seeing) the love and money my mother put into that building.”
Kosene, unsure of the building’s future, sought to sell it to a company he believed would benefit the community. He said his search ended when he discovered COhatch. The development group intends to purchase the building from Kosene.
Requests for a special exception and a development standards variance were approved by the BZA on April 7. The proposed project was introduced to the Zionsville Architectural Review Committee at a February meeting and is expected to be reviewed at the committee’s April 27 meeting, Roger Kilmer of the town’s planning and economic development department said. A petition for development plan approval by the Zionsville Plan Commission has been filed and is scheduled to be heard at the commission’s May 17 meeting.
Besides creating a coworking space, COhatch also has submitted plans to include a 123-seat restaurant with outdoor patio space, with the total investment exceeding $3 million, according to COhatch legal representatives. The proposal includes interior and exterior improvements to the building.
COhatch, which launched in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016, has three other Indiana locations, including one in Noblesville and an upcoming location west of Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. The Zionsville location would be its 15th nationwide, if approved. Company officials believe coworking spaces are used differently than traditional offices, with the majority of members working three or four days a week and spending, on average, three to five hours each visit.
COhatch officials expect to have approximately 60 to 80 private office and coworking members, with the peak usage on any given weekday during work hours being 20 to 30 people, based on the company’s operational data from existing sites of similar size.
John Watkins, a partner at the company, said one COhatch employee would work Monday through Friday to staff the location, and six to 15 employees would staff the restaurant, depending on the day.
“I think this would be the only way I can see, right now, of preserving that building, and I would personally hate to see anything happen to that building,” Kosene said.
While the development was met with broad support, members of the BZA expressed concerns about one aspect of the project: parking.
The site has four existing parking spaces but is near more than 175 street or public parking spaces, according to development plans. The BZA voted April 7 to require the petitioner to provide 23 parking spaces at an off-site location and secure an additional eight spaces for the exclusive use of 75 N. Main St. within the Zionsville Architectural Review Committee boundaries. The company expects a significant portion of its clientele to be Zionsville residents who walk or bike to the property, thus reducing parking needs.
COhatch’s plans to create a co-working space and restaurant at 75 N. Main St., in Zionsville, have received a wide range of support.
“Simply put, this is a remarkable opportunity for the Village,” Chris Szymanczyk, a Zionsville resident, wrote in a letter to the Zionsville Board of Zoning Appeals. “The plans manage to incorporate and preserve the historic aspects of the building and bring a fresh vibrancy that can only enhance the surrounding properties and the Village as a whole.”
The Zionsville Chamber of Commerce also voiced support for the development after COhatch agreed to work with another town coworking space, zWORKS, in a collaborative partnership and secured a lease for 29 off-street parking spots near the location prior to the BZA meeting. In a letter to the BZA, chamber officials wrote the development would likely provide “economic and social uplift.”
“I am personally really excited about COhatch coming to Zionsville,” Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron said. “It looks like it has a lot to offer our community.”