1617 Park Place Ave.
Fort Worth 76110
Ed McLin enjoyed working from home, but an otherwise satisfying workspace lacked a critical element: people.
“I live by myself and go to Starbucks in the morning to be around people,” said McLin, a Fort Worth insurance-services specialist who found concentrating in the coffee shop’s chaotic atmosphere rather challenging. So he sought a location more suited to his needs.
He found a solution at Ensemble Coworking, a 5,700-square-foot oasis of conference rooms, private offices and communal work space at 1617 Park Place Ave. on Fort Worth’s Near Southside.
Since opening in April, the collaborative business resource has attracted almost 30 members seeking a flexible work environment with all the amenities and none of the headaches associated with some other remote work locations.
“We’re like Executive Suites meets a coffee shop,” said Tamara Payne, a longtime events planner and business networking specialist who created what’s become a thriving business in the shadow of the medical district.
“The demand for this type of work environment is definitely there. The key is getting the word out,” said Payne, co-founder and chief connector of her new enterprise.
Using contacts she amassed while working at previous marketing jobs, Payne spread the word about the business, in space she leases from Quarles Lumber. Payne and partner Dawn Shannon secured a small-business loan from American Bank of Commerce in Addison while remodeling the suite with some help from their landlord.
Sleek modern furniture mingles with rustic fencing that serves as a sliding door between conference room and walkway. “That’s important,” Payne said. “We wanted a rustic feel, a corporate feel and also a homey feel. You’ll find that here.”
Occupying a strip center that counts Old Neighborhood Grill and Esperanza’s Mexican Bakery & Cafe among its tenants, Ensemble Coworking offers space for private office work, collaborative meetings and non-corporate events.
“The other day, a woman asked about holding her daughter’s 17th birthday party here. We said no problem,” Payne said. “Whether in a traditional office meeting or a birthday party, we welcome diversity with our customers and members. We want them to be comfortable.”
McLin found that appealing. Framed photos of his Texas Longhorns college heritage overlook his corner desk, where a large Starbucks iced tea fuels the morning.
“I was looking for somewhere like this, a somewhat quiet place but where I could interact with people,” said McLin, who met Payne at a neighborhood breakfast meeting. Before he knew it, he not only joined as a member of Payne’s enterprise, but also met a new client as a result of networking in the Park Place location.
At rates ranging from $20 for a drop-in daily pass to between $150 and $650 a month, members enjoy different amenities but the same office environment, regardless of whether it’s a tiny corner office or a larger conference room.
Rates include electricity, water and access to a fully stocked kitchen with several coffee makers.
“It’s all inclusive with no hidden fees,” Payne said. “And you have a mailing address on Park Place. Who doesn’t want to be on the Monopoly board?”
Collaborative workspaces have become popular in recent years. From IDEA Works FW to The Backlot, collaborative workspaces in Cowtown are nothing new. But Payne’s and Shannon’s enterprise is part of a new trend of spaces catering to more mobile clients, not those seeking a traditional office lease.
Payne and Shannon created the collaborative workspace to meet the needs of clients from myriad industries. The duo offers an alternative atmosphere to the pets, laundry and vacuuming that often make home offices rife with distractions. Instead, they offer a workspace that adjusts to a client’s – or community member’s – needs, to use Payne’s parlance.
“Freelancers can leave the noisy coffee shop, and small-business owners have somewhere else to work besides home,” said Payne.
Payne’s and Shannon’s paths first crossed at an architects’ conference, where Shannon’s former employer was among the attending firms. Payne was a guest speaker for the group meeting, and the two remembered each other at a subsequent breakfast meeting.
“We clicked,” Shannon said. “She was doing marketing, and I was doing coaching, and she introduced her concept of Ensemble Coworking. I had been thinking about that [idea] myself.”
Security is a priority for the women, who provide inside and outside video surveillance. Free gated parking also comes with the package.
“We want to add a patio in the coming year, just really expand what’s already doing really well,” Payne said.