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WeWork pulls out of Tampa Heights office near Armature Works

The co-working space had originally been slated to open by June 2020 inside the Heights Union building.
WeWork's offices at 501 East Kennedy Boulevard will now be its only location in Tampa after the co-working company pulled out of its plan to open another office near Armature Works.
WeWork's offices at 501 East Kennedy Boulevard will now be its only location in Tampa after the co-working company pulled out of its plan to open another office near Armature Works. [ SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Dec. 17, 2020
Updated Dec. 17, 2020

TAMPA — WeWork will no longer be opening a co-working space inside the Heights Union, an office building next door to Armature Works along the Hillsborough River downtown, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

“In streamlining our portfolio towards profitable growth, we have decided not to open our Heights Union location in Tampa,” WeWork said in a statement. “Moving forward, we remain committed to the Tampa community and establishing WeWork Place as WeWork’s flagship location downtown. In consolidating these two locations, we look forward to providing our members with first-class, flexible space solutions in Tampa.”

Adam Harden, a principal with project developer SoHo Capital, said it’s agreement with WeWork was an early pre-lease.

“We have negotiated a mutual agreement to release them and move forward,” Harden said. “We are excited about potential uses for the contiguous space.”

WeWork had fallen on hard financial times before the pandemic began. It started outlining a five-year recovery plan last fall, which involved scaling back on real estate.

WeWork debuted its downtown Tampa location on E Kennedy Boulevard in October 2019 as its corporate leaders were trying to secure the business’ future after ousting its founder and CEO. The company abruptly withdrew plans to go public after filings revealed its losses surpassed $1 billion before the end of 2019.

Related: The guys who brought you Tampa's Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they've already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

The Heights Union WeWork location was supposed to be 50,000 square feet and was originally slated to open by June 2020. WeWork said it would have the high-end amenities its members expect from micro-roasted coffee and fresh fruit water to lush conference rooms and living room-style common areas.

WeWork’s struggles are not indicative of the co-working industry as a whole. The Tampa Bay Times talked to several smaller scale co-working spaces across Tampa Bay in September whose operators said business was coming back strong despite the pandemic.

Spaces like Bay 3 Co-Work, which is inside Armature Works, was handling an influx of inquires for private office suites for people conscious of COVID-19 but looking for an alternative to working from home.

Related: Tampa Bay co-working spaces rebound as many tire of the home office

Initial plans for the Heights Union released in 2018 called for a six-story building at the corner of W Palm Avenue and N Tampa Street with 300,000 square feet of total office space, 42,000 square feet of retail space, a 1,500-space parking garage and a panoramic rooftop deck.

Med-tech company Axogen was the first major tenant to sign a lease at that time for 75,000 square feet.