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  • Writer's pictureLee ISG

Soylent Opens New Type of Coworking Hub at Los Angeles Headquarters

Meal Replacement Firm Touts Arts District Popularity With Tech, Media Firms

Food technology company Soylent's new headquarters in downtown Los Angeles features a coworking space for like-minded companies that want to collaborate with the growing firm, a sign that office tenants themselves are taking advantage of a growing U.S. demand for shared offices.

Soylent, which makes meal-replacement smoothies and products, recently moved into a 27,000-square-foot headquarters on the third floor of ASB Capital Management's At Mateo Building Two at 555 - 581 Mateo St. in the city's Arts District, a once sleepy industrial part of downtown that has become increasingly popular with tech and media companies including Warner Music and Spotify.

Among the most notable features of Soylent's new digs is the inclusion of Soylent Innovation Lab, a co-working space meant to build a community of food- and nutrition-focused companies to support the food tech community, in a move that may be the first of its kind.

"We want to partner with you and give you the unique opportunity to increase your business’ influence by working alongside our team of dreamers, doers and makers," reads the Soylent Innovation Lab website.

Coworking, a shared office trend in which providers build out space with ample amenities and sublease it out on flexible terms, has become a popular trend among independent firms like WeWork and landlords such as Tishman Speyer. But few, if any, businesses that lease space as office tenants themselves have taken a stab at providing the service to other firms in the same fashion.

The Soylent Innovation Lab was launched this year and currently has eight companies and 22 members, according to the company. Users have access to the company's conference and board rooms, nooks for meetings, a bar and a rooftop deck.

Desks in the lab run $575 a month while private offices run $3,400, according to its website. An executive office is available upon request.

Soylent opened the lab with a contest for companies that were interested in winning up to $25,000 and a free year of office space. More than 50 companies applied, and Soylent selected micro-foods company Journey Foods as the winner, according to a company blog post. It said two runner-ups received $5,000 and conditional office space use.

Relatively Rare Arrangement

The concept is an unusual one among office occupiers.

“I think that the Soylent example at At Mateo is the only one I have heard of,” John Eichler, executive director of brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield, said in an email. “I, personally, am not sure that this will work when one considers the expertise and full amenity package that they will be competing against.”

He notes that nearby developer Hudson Pacific Properties owns another office property, the Maxwell at 405 Mateo St. and Fourth & Traction, where WeWork leases 61,000 square feet of space.

But the area remains an attractive one for many firms, and Soylent may offer the right environment for companies hoping to collaborate with the firm.

The company pitches its newly designed offices and its prime location as some of the reasons the lab may be attractive to other firms.

Design firm Ware Malcomb designed the office to be light-filled with floor-to-ceiling windows, some retractable, that allow plenty of sunshine to seep into the spaces. A black and white color palette throughout aims to reflect Soylent's product branding. The space has modular, movable furniture and an open floor plan, along with some private offices in addition to a game area and lounge spaces.

In a statement, Bryan Crowley, chief executive at Soylent, credited design firm Ware Malcomb for creating the space that "allows both our Soylent team and our Soylent Innovation Lab members to build culture and synergy that are so important for growing our businesses."

A blog post on the Innovation Lab website also touts its office's proximity to popular companies in the burgeoning Arts District, where developers and tenants like powerhouse music conglomerate Warner Music Group and online coupon provider Honey have been setting up shop.

Soylent shares the At Mateo development with music streaming company Spotify, which leases the balance of the 186,000-square-foot complex that joint venture ASB Real Estate Investments and Blatteis & Schnur opened in 2017.

Commercial real estate brokers expect the Arts District to continue to flourish with more companies moving in as development in the area continues.

“You’re delivering product that people want,” Jeff Lasky, vice president of leasing at Los Angeles real estate investment trust Hudson Pacific Properties, said at the recent RENTV “Downtown Los Angeles State of the Market” event held at the L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown. “It’s old historic buildings, warehouses that we’ve converted, and we’re creating work environments that this generation of workers want.”

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