You know what’s probably a smart move in this economy? Hitching yourself to technology startups, with a mind towards sticking with them as they scale. Douglas Development is doing it with LivingSocial and other smaller companies. And global real estate brokerage Jones Lang Lasalle is doing it with Startup America, the White House’s effort to foster high-growth businesses, with more flexible lease arrangements and proximity to like-minded entrepreneurs. Besides putting startups in the kind of coworking environment that makes them happy, it also corrects an inefficiency in the current office market, where medium-sized office blocks can languish before landing a solid tenant.
As its first move in D.C., JLL is close to sealing the deal on space in the vicinity of 18th and K Street NW, close to where it hosted the Entreprelooza event in Borders’ cavernous old location. It will include Startup America’s D.C. incarnation, which mostly comes down to its chairman Evan Burfield, as well as Burfield’s own company Synteractive and at least four others.
This won’t be your parent’s basement kind of office, obviously. It’s high-end, centrally located, nicely built out space, which small companies can afford—-perhaps after graduating from a proper incubator, like the Fort—-because they’ve got multi-million dollar venture capital rounds, and need to hire the best people on the market. “It’s like why Facebook and Google hire celebrity chefs,” Burfield explains. “When you’re in high-growth mode, you have to be competing for talent.”
JLL’s Andy O’Brien couldn’t confirm the specific location, but said that the firm has several such spaces in the works. “We are working hard on new initiatives to make office space easier for these new startups,” he said. “The entire real estate community is starting to catch on and really take notice that this is a growing tech ecosystem.”
UPDATE, Friday, 12:23 p..m. – It appears quite likely that the space is, in fact, in 1800 L Street NW. That’s JLL’s O’Brien and his partner Alex Lassar on the 7th Floor at last night’s TechCocktail event, saying that this space “or one just like it” will house the firm’s first collection of tech businesses. It just needs a little work.