Shared office spaces like those in restored Book Depository soar in popularity

Tuesday night there was a party at the Book Depository in Corktown - a celebration of new startups who call Detroit home. They were all in the same building. It's called a "co-working" space. And while it's not new, it's a trend gaining a lot of traction.

The city's latest masterpiece is a relic of the city’s past, the Book Depository next to the Michigan Central Train Depot in Corktown. It is now a bridge to the Motor City’s future.

"This building is an engine of innovation," said Jeff Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central. "We’ve already got an incredible array of companies working here. we have a partnership with a company called Newlab, who’s really helping us focus this building on early company startups."

Inside the rehabbed building are various office spaces. It is a glimpse into the future - or maybe present - of the modern-day office.  It’s called a co-working space.

"People come in here to work, give them a sense of a balance between their work life and their personal life (and) give them a sense of belonging to a community," said Chao Sun.

Sun works in Eastern Michigan’s Management Department.  He’s studied and worked in shared workspaces.

"I am actually, currently in a coworking space," he said.

With the challenges of pandemic in the rearview, coworking is, once again, surging in popularity.

According to the online recruiter — Zippia — in 2017, there were 4,000 coworking spaces in America.  That number grew to 6,200 spaces in 2022.

Nearly one in every five workspaces globally are in the US.

Locally, it lets Detroit compete with bigger cities to lure companies.

"More and more talent are escaping the urban center and moving into the suburban areas," Sun said. "They’re escaping the West Coast, East Coast, and tech centers. So the coworking space in Michigan is attracting all those talents because of our affordable cost of living."