Now building owner Barry Roberts and local developers are transforming the 5,000-square-foot First National Bank building it into coworking space, the first such space downtown.
The idea is to offer space for people who don’t have or need a traditional office and to provide the chance to network, said Jerry Guidera., a developer and acting executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.
Called AmherstWorks, the project is a joint venture between Roberts, Guidera and Kyle Wilson and David Williams of Archipelago Investments. The pair built Boltwood Place and Kendrick Place and are redeveloping the former Carriage Shops. Architect John Kuhn is designing the project.
The group began talking about this venture in the spring and jumped right in, said Guidera, who will be the project’s general manager. They got their demolition permit last week and hope to be ready to open in time for the fall when school begins.
The project is costing about $250,000 in renovations, but that also includes about $100,000 to outfit the space with for fixtures and furniture, he said.
It will be part of the Workbar network, which has coworking space in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville. The space will have the fastest internet downtown, Guidera said.
Users can pay $25 for a day pass, be a so-called part-time floater for $225, a full-time floater for $325, and full-timer with a desk for $425 a month. There will also be opportunities for people to lease an office for more. Members will have 24-hour access to the building.
There will be a full-time receptionist who will be able to accept packages, as well as a copier and unlimited coffee provided by Amherst Coffee. Long-term parking is available in the lot behind CVS.
Guidera said the current bank vault is being converted into a conference room. There will be small rooms for people to use to make phone calls and a lounge area, desks and offices.
He said the developers likely will apply for an occupancy permit for about 120 but are likely sell double that in memberships because of the flexible scheduling.
Guidera said the space will draw people downtown to work who will likely go out for lunch and go shopping or out for a drink after work.