Around Fort Lauderdale and the country, shared office spaces have become popular. It’s a straightforward concept – you’re an entrepreneur with a small business, and you want a place with good online access, mail collection, perhaps someone to take calls. And yet you don’t want the expense of a full office. This is the middle way.
Now a Fort Lauderdale business is expanding in a slightly different direction – that concept, but instead of aiming at web designers, communications professionals, writers etc., they’re targeting a fully white-collar market.
Cruiseport Conference Center and Offices has been around for about three years and is currently expanding. It was founded by Edward Lake, a personal injury attorney and software entrepreneur, who owns Fort Lauderdale-based software and communications company Persist and has a home in the area. Cruiseport began because he saw an opening in the market. “Because he’s been to a million different trade shows and he’s attended so many different conferences, he’s kind of tired of the same old same old,” Cruiseport’s Grace Montaleagre says. “He wanted an all-in-one price and a high-tech location where you could just come in and not have to worry about having your laptop working or having Ethernet or whatever.”
It doesn’t hurt, Montealegre adds, to have a location in the Harbor Shops on Cordova Road, just off 17th Street. The airport’s right down the road in one direction, downtown in the other; Port Everglades is over the bridge. And the 17th Street/Cordova area is filled with dining options. For business professionals, it ticks boxes.
It’s the sort of vibe and feel meant to attract a perhaps less-traditional office-sharing tenant. Clients include CPAs, real estate brokers, real estate broker trainers and attorneys, to name a few. Professional services. Cruiseport offers rooms in different sizes, typically able to accommodate anywhere from one to four desks. Anything can be configured to client requests.
“The only fixed room we have is the auditorium,” Montealegre says. “We’re very flexible.”
The auditorium is a tiered one that seats 46. It’s got all the modern plug-ins and projection needed to run presentations, and it’s also available to clients.
The next addition, now in the works, is a 100-person ballroom.
“The idea is that the ballroom is not going to have fixed seating in the way of the (auditorium),” Montaleagre says. The new space will be more of a reception-type space. Clients have expressed interest in using it for trade show-style events. Three smaller breakout/meeting rooms will sit off to the side, so it will work for that sort of event.
It’s not the typical shared office space look, with funky furniture or a cool coffeemaker in the corner. But really, that’s the idea.
“We’re not looking for the Starbucks guys, we’re looking for the sole practitioner attorneys, people of that nature,” Montealegre says. ”We want professionals, and we want them to be comfortable.”