Next Big Thing? High-end dorms for low-cost housing

You’ll soon be able to bunk up in a co-living dorm like this one, if you’re yearning for your college years. Photo by Lauren Kallen/WeWork
You’ll soon be able to bunk up in a co-living dorm like this one, if you’re yearning for your college years.
Photo by Lauren Kallen/WeWork


They’re billed as the latest breakthrough in the hi-tech “sharing economy,” but so-called “co-living” spaces coming to Downtown may feel awfully familiar to many of their likely occupants.

After becoming the leading provider of shared “co-working” offices in New York City, WeWork is introducing WeLive — a low-budget communal living space with private bedrooms but shared amenities and common areas that might seem a lot like the college dormitories that many start-up workers left when they came to the big city.

WeWork, by far the biggest player in Lower Manhattan’s co-working and shared-office boom, debuted its new co-living facility at 110 Wall St. this spring to offer low-cost, low-commitment housing for hi-tech workers often paid largely in potentially worthless stock options.

The company already rents out offices across seven floors at the bottom of the building, and has remained tight-lipped about the progress of its micro-apartment experiment, where residents will pay rent on a monthby- month basis.

“We are in the early stages of beta testing a new, community-driven living concept in New York City,” a representative for WeWork told Downtown Express in a statement. “This concept is another layer of our platform focused on enabling people to live more fulfilling lives. During this testing phase, we’ll be listening to feedback from our community and we’ll have more to share in the future.”

Only a few lucky beta-testers have been allowed to enjoy this new life-fulfilling layer of the platform so far, but depending on feedback, New York’s underpaid, overmotivated millennials should eventually be able to vie for one of WeLive’s studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, which will come fully furnished and with shared kitchens and communal spaces, according to reports.

The units at 110 Wall St. will eventually house around 600 people on 20 floors, according to reports, and residents will also be able to partake in fitness classes and potluck dinners, and enjoy maid and laundry services.

WeLive could well become the most affordable housing option Downtown, where luxury condo conversions and sky-high pencil towers are becoming the norm.

But you may want to hurry to take advantage while you can. WeLive is not the first company to experiment with the co-living concept. Campus, another startup, tried and failed to take the meaning of working from home to its logical extreme — the company was forced to shut down its 34-location co-living business last year after its funding ran dry.

The company backing WeLive is on much sounder financial footing, however. WeWork now leases more than 775,000 square feet Downtown after inking a deal last year to take over almost a quarter million square feet at 85 Broad St. — the largest lease signed in Lower Manhattan in 2015, according to the Downtown Alliance — and it plans to open another location on John St. this month.

And it’s a business that is booming. Overall, Lower Manhattan now has at least 27 co-working and shared office locations operating or opening soon, according to the Alliance.

A range of other co-working companies opened outposts in Lower Manhattan in the past year, with The Yard launching its first Downtown offices on Nassau St., Cowork|rs inking deals for space at 55 Broadway and 60 Broad St., and The Grind partnering with Verizon to open in the telecom provider’s well-connected former headquarters at 140 West St.