Lee's Summit Journal

For efficiency or camaraderie, Bridge Space in Lee’s Summit a coworking gem

Bridge Space has a variety of office enivonments, including couches, beanbag chairs and tables.
Bridge Space has a variety of office enivonments, including couches, beanbag chairs and tables. Special to the Journal

Whether you’re freelancing, working remotely or just don’t have the money to rent a brick and mortar office space, it can get lonely working alone. That’s why coworking locations like the Bridge Space, at 210 Southwest Market St. in downtown in Lee’s Summit, have been popping up.

This is how it works: Individuals and businesses sign up for plans, depending on what facilities they need and how much time they need those spaces each month. That can mean private office space, conference rooms or just a coffee shop environment with couches.

For example, $395 a month gets an individual unlimited time at Bridge Space’s general facilities with limited access to conference rooms. There are options for day passes and other increments of time, depending on what you need.

About 75 companies from 50 different industries use Bridge Space, said Ben Rao, president of Bridge Space.

“Most people have their favorite places they like to land,” Rao said. “Some people like to work on a couch, some on a beanbag chair. Some rooms can have as many as 20 people, but we have little private nooks that house one or two people.”

Rao also touts the security of the 24-hour space.

“There’s a safety factor. … If you leave your laptop out on the table and walk away for 23 hours, you’re probably not going to have any issues,” he said.

All of this fits inside the humble facade of a 1960s-era post office that closed three years ago. The bones of the old building are there, accented by various repurposed materials, such as tempered glass from an old hospital and wood from a church.

The remodeling project, overseen by Rosin Preservation in Kansas City, garnered Bridge Space the Preserve Missouri Award from Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation last month.

Other features include high-speed internet, a podcast studio and a cafe area. The building has 35 small private office spaces that people can rent on a month-to-month basis, something that Rao said is helpful for start-ups with small initial budgets.

For Sarah Donnelly, it’s a way to have office camaraderie even though she works remotely for the Omaha-based company Social Assurance.

“It gives you that community, and it gives you that accountability,” she said.

She also likes the free classes Bridge Space offers.

“Even if it doesn’t directly apply to what I do, I always learn something,” Donnelly said.

Pure socializing isn’t the only reason people are turning to coworking.

“People come into the space because they want to feel connected with other people … which will help their business life move forward. There’s organic networking that happens,” Rao said.

Bridge Space is part of the Kansas City Coworking Alliance. Most of the other member spaces are in Johnson County or Kansas City. The only other one in Lee’s Summit is FlexPlay, which focuses on providing childcare along with a professional work environment for parents.

“The number one reason (for Bridge Space) was to create jobs in Lee’s Summit, creating resources that people would use to start their companies here. We’ve had almost 6,000 people come through our space,” Rao said.

Some of those have expanded, going from one employee to five, then growing out of Bridge Space completely and finding more permanent offices in Lee’s Summit, he said. He also thinks having the Bridge Space in the downtown area drives more people to restaurants and businesses in the area.