Common, a startup with ambitions to make co-living as big as coworking, opened the doors to its first space in Brooklyn on Monday.
The 7,300-square-foot building has 19 fully furnished bedrooms in four suites, each with its own kitchen and two bathrooms. Tenants share common space, like a coworking room/dining hall on the garden floor, and can participate in community events like a weekly potluck dinner.
Co-living startups attempt to fill a need for flexible housing among young, urban professionals. Most startups in the space, like Common, charge rent on a month-by-month basis and don’t require tenants to clear prohibitive hurdles like making an annual income that equates to multiples of their rent. The largest co-living company, Campus, which had 34 spaces in San Francisco and New York City, shut down in June. "We were unable to find a way to make Campus into an economically viable business," wrote CEO Tom Currier at the time. Others, like Pure House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, have specific niches and offer lots of programming.
The goliath coworking company, WeWork, has announced ambitious plans to start its own chain of co-living spaces called WeLive.
Common’s business model is different from Campus's business model because the company partners with real estate companies that buy the buildings. That way, it saves money on rent and has more control over the spaces.
Rent in the new Brooklyn space costs between $1,800 and $1,950, which is slightly more than an average studio apartment in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn, neighborhood where it is located.
Brad Hargreaves, the founder and CEO of Common, says that the company advertised the open rooms through networks such as trade school General Assembly (Hargreaves is a cofounder) and language school Fluent City. Both are likely to have students who are new to the city and unsure of their long-term plans, which make them likely candidates for flexible housing. About 300 people applied to live in the 19 rooms. "I was worried everyone would be in college or starting out of college, but that’s definitely not the case," Hargreaves says.
Common announced that it had raised $7.35 million in Series A funding in July. It plans to open one more space by the end of the year and "a number" of others next year, all in the same neighborhood.