Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the new Center of Developing Entrepreneurs on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall is still set to open next summer.
At a press conference Thursday, officials discussed wellness aspects of the building, as well as the CODEBASE co-working facility.
Andrew Boninti, of CSH Development, said he thinks it’s still too early to tell nationally and locally what effect the pandemic will have on the office space environment.
“Several of our active prospects for leasing have pushed the pause button for now, as we all start to get a better understanding of what the new workplace environment will be if COVID is still present,” Boninti said.
About 60% of the space has been pre-leased, he said, which was the same percentage Boninti told reporters in October.
“We’re just very comfortable that with the things that [architect Fred Wolf] and the design team have been able to do to make people safe in this building, this will be a very attractive alternative for anyone that’s looking for space,” Boninti said.
Mike Castle, with construction company Hourigan, said they will be planting the green roofs in the near future, and trees will be visible on the roof this fall. Each floor has an outdoor space.
The CODE building also will feature mall-level common areas, a water feature, an amphitheater and a pedestrian pass-thru from the mall to Water Street.
“The schedule is tracking with no delays, even with all the situations we’ve been dealing with, with COVID and everything else, and we are still tracking for a summer of 2021 completion date and everything has been running very smoothly,” he said.
Wolf said that while they did not technically pursue WELL Building Standard certification, a health-focused building standard, the building follows many of those principles. He said the pandemic also caused the design team to go back and reflect on what other types of changes they could make while the building was still under construction.
“One of the big ones was that we reintroduced operable windows throughout the building,” he said. “It’s so unusual for an office building like this — all office floors will have operable windows.”
The building also will have touchless entry, and the team is looking at ways to activate the elevators without touching buttons, among other things, Wolf said.
The CODEBASE co-working facility is scheduled to open next August. Rob Archer, with CSH Development, said there will be different memberships for use of the space depending on the needs.
“Do you need a single office because you’re a freelance professional?,” he said. “Are you a part of an enterprise team that needs a space where you can work with three or four people safely, and then where we can carve out a workspace for you, specifically? Do you need a larger office? Do you, as an individual, want to have a type of membership that allows you access to conference rooms where you could bring a group in for a meeting?”
There also will be a podcast room, lactation room, event spaces and a 225-seat auditorium for use. Archer said they plan to keep the spaces and memberships flexible.
“If I have 100 people come to me and say, ‘You know what, I don’t need an office but I need to be able to schedule time in a professional podcasting room, three days a week, or three times a month,’ then I should probably build a membership around that that serves that sort of need,” he said.