MidTown is abuzz with the March opening of Tech Hive

Banking on the growing coworking trend, the hope is that when the MidTown Tech Hive opens on Thursday, March 1, it will become a cooperative gathering place for great minds to bring innovative ideas—offering a sense of community and an emphasis on tech education.

“We’re really excited about the Hive coming to the neighborhood,” says MidTown Cleveland executive director Jeff Epstein. “It will bring a lot of energy [and] a lot of people to the neighborhood. It’s been part of the plan for the area for several years.”

The Tech Hive is the brainchild of DigitalC co-founder and former CEO Lev Gonick and director of place Joan Chase. Last year, the two began dreaming of a community-driven coworking space where technology-focused businesses could form and blossom in the Health-Tech Corridor and beyond.

The $2 million project (of which the City of Cleveland is providing $744,000) is designed to create a digitally literate population in MidTown and bring the city to the forefront in technology and innovation. The Hive is open to everyone, from entrepreneurs to people in career shifts to those looking to add their expertise to someone's idea.

“This really is a place in the MidTown neighborhood where businesspeople have the opportunity to innovate and start new businesses,” says current DigitalC CEO Dorothy Baunach. “We believe that place matters, and if you’re going to work with innovation and tech literacy, this is really the place.”

Set up in the historic Frost Building at 6815 Euclid Ave., the three-story 1926 Kissel Motor Car Company warehouse got a complete exterior and infrastructure makeover from Frost Architectural Preservation before DigitalC began the transformation of 13,000 square feet into flexible office space, conference rooms, and other amenities.

“The renovations have been significant,” says Anna Buchholz, Tech Hive manager. Previously, she was program manager for business accelerator and venture fund Flashstarts. She says that while Flashstarts is more about investment, Tech Hive is more about community. “This is very much a collaborative work environment,” says Buchholz.

Tech Hive creators looked at many similar organizations around the country, modeling the Cleveland hive after Impact Hub in Oakland, CA. “The goal with the space is to create a model for a structured neighborhood innovation center,” explains Buchholz. "We’ve packaged it up to learn about digital technology [and] digital literacy, with open office hours for people.”

The first floor of the building is reserved for collaborative space, while the second and third floors have office space where open desks can be rented with a one-day pass for $10 or a monthly membership for $150. Dedicated desks rent for $250 per month, and private offices start at $500 per month.

The revolving, open offices encourage collaboration and community building, says Baunach. “We want to meet people from the surrounding neighborhoods where they are from an innovation perspective. Come in, have a desk for a day if you want to do that. Really, we want to have people in the neighborhood mixing it up to see what happens.”

Also available are conference rooms ranging from four to 18 seats; 12-, 24-, and 36-seat classrooms; and up to 5,000 square feet of event space. One of the conference rooms is actually the space where a freight elevator used to haul cars up and down between the three floors.

Additionally, the Tech Hive has a wellness room, showers, and private phone booths.

“The wellness room has showers and a comfortable, private space for nursing mothers,” explains Buchholz. “The phone booths are small private rooms our members can use to take and make phone calls and conference calls. And the showers are perfect for our members who like to ride their bikes into work or go out for a run during the day.”

Other amenities include free Wi-Fi and parking, a kitchen, and an on-site coffee shop. The Tech Hive is easily accessed from RTA’s Healthline.

The Tech Hive will also serve as the main hub for many of DigitalC’s digital literacy programs, including its Data for Impact, Connect the Unconnected (in which DigitalC recently worked with CMHA to give 79 residents computers and teach digital literacy), and Data Analytics workshops.

The Midtown Tech Hive has had two social gatherings to introduce the Hive to the community. Buchholz and other staff members have been giving tours of the new facility this month, and they plan to host a final happy hour social event this Thursday, February 22, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Hive. Previous happy hours have sold out, and MidTown’s Epstein reports Thursday’s event is already close to sold out.

Let the buzz begin.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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