SAINT JOHN– A Saint John business is turning a 100-year-old city-centre building into a co-working space for both for-profit and non-profit organizations called The Wheelhouse.
Adams Green, an accounting firm and certified B Corporation, has bought 36 Richmond Street, a property built in 1903 that has housed several businesses over the years such as an apothecary, a cafe, bookstore and a pharmacy.
Co-owner Owen Green says the idea to purchase the property came after a text message from his wife and business partner, Haley Adams.
“My wife is one of those people who get ideas out of the blue. She texted me one morning when I was walking into the office and said, ‘maybe we should buy a building.’ We started casually looking and came across this place and it made it real and the dots all started to line up,” said Green.
Adams says the building will be a hub for collaborative, entrepreneurial people.
“Our vision for The Wheelhouse is for a different kind of professional space,” says Adams. “We see it as a kind of community centre for entrepreneurs, where people can come together to collaborate around all kinds of ideas.”
Take a look inside 36 Richmond Street:
Green says the location was ideal because their firm already does a lot of work with the non-profit organizations in the city-centre neighbourhood known as Waterloo Village.
“We do a fair bit of work in this area already with some of the organizations that are in the [Social Enterprise] Hub and the Teen Resource Centre [TRC] building,” says Green. “We just kind of said it feels right to make some roots here in the area that we’re trying to have a little bit of an impact on.”
Along with Adams Green’s operations, The Wheelhouse will have office space for rent, as well as a monthly membership to access shared working spaces and amenities. Green says they are looking for like-minded tenants and members working in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
“Our business has been in that space and I think there is a lot to be gained for collaborating and learning from one another,” he says. “Going in both directions between for-profit and not-for-profit, we think that will bring a cool dimension to this area and build on what’s already happening in the TRC and Social Enterprise Hub.”
There is some work that needs to be done before they move in. Green says they will be hiring Catapult, a nearby social enterprise run by Outflow, to do the work.
“What they’re going to be doing here is really just more cleanup than anything else. It needs a new floor, some of the paint needs a touch-up, we need to put a new door on, things like that,” he says.
“But we really do want to keep the look and feel and preserve some of the great historical elements like the tin ceiling and all the woodwork and what not.
“Upstairs, there’s not a whole lot that needs to be done other than a little of paint touch-up and things like that. For the outside of the building, it’s showing its age a little bit so we need to touch it up, but we want to preserve that look.”
The renovations are expected to take a couple months, so Green says they hope to move in by mid-June and will host an open house sometime in the fall.
They hope their new space builds on the revitalization already happening in the neighbourhood, and that it also helps facilitate collaboration between for-profit and non-profit organizations to solve problems.
“We want this to be a space where people are interacting,” says Green, “so our plan is to have events where we would be bringing people together from both the for-profit and not-for-profit world to talk about what can be gained from working with one another and how we can tackle some complex problems together.”