Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Bitwise Industries collaborative workspace, founded in the Tower District in 2011, is now packing up its second home in Bitwise South Stadium to relocate down the street to a 5,000 square-foot space in the basement of the historical Hotel Virginia building along Kern Street.
The new Hashtag, set to open in the next week or so, is the first of three new downtown renovation projects Bitwise announced in January. The other two — Bitwise 41 at the Old Spaghetti Factory building on Ventura Street and Bitwise State Center Warehouse, a 100,000 square foot space on R Street — are complete overhauls not set to open until the fall of 2018.
The Hotel Virginia basement, on the other hand, was simply a blank slate ready to design, according to Bitwise co-CEO Jake Soberal. The building has already been renovated and features several businesses on floors one through three, including Boese Commercial, Charburger and Tree of Life.
“Hotel Virginia is a building that is obviously a downtown staple,” Soberal said. “It was one of the early ones to be redone, and unlike South Stadium, Bitwise 41 and State Center Warehouse, it is not a complete rehab and there are existing tenants that are really complementary. It’s a great mix and we saw an opportunity to go in and grow within the building, which is an immediate need…we were running up against our capacity at the current Hashtag and wanted to have more space because it is the lowest barrier of entry into our ecosystem.”
The project, which Soberal said is a tenant improvement, will cost between $50,000 and $100,000 at completion.
The sprawling basement space features a kitchen, welcome area, a variety of regular and standing desks with different levels of privacy, and two conference rooms. Hanging shelves add some separation between sections of the room and unique light fixtures will brighten the space.
The Hotel Virginia basement also pays homage to Hashtag’s former homes. Entering the space, a graffiti mural features a hammock overlooking a cityscape view — an ode to Hashtag at South Stadium — and the façade of Hashtag’s first location in Tower.
In addition to the basement, Hashtag users will be able to soak up some sunlight on a private rooftop patio.
The outdoor area will mirror the indoor with its variety of working spaces, and overhead retractable shade awnings will allow people to work outside when it’s hot or when it’s raining.
The rooftop space is a first for the city and for Bitwise, which plans to create a larger rooftop space atop the State Center Warehouse building.
“It creates a really fun environment,” Soberal said.
What developers designed at Hotel Virginia, Soberal said, is a perfect example of how to create a rooftop space.
“When they bought this building and reconfigured it, this was just a rooftop,” Soberal said. “The staircase from the third floor didn’t exist and neither did the concrete at the end or the staircase out to the lot. This is an example of taking an urban environment outside and creating a rooftop space.”