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Collaborative Work and Living Space – A Thought

Okay, let’s float these as trial balloons.

First, in the Dennis Port Village Center, General Commercial II, and West Dennis Village Center I am thinking we might want to add the following as an Allowed Use:

Collaborative Workspace – shared space for those looking to lease a work area and have access to a shared pool of amenities, like conference rooms, office supplies, and internet and tech connections. Facilities provide space for networking, events, working alone or with others, pop-up shops, and workshops. Collaborative Workspaces may include services such as retail sales, food services, facilities for professional office, light manufacturing, research and development, common storage, packing, and distribution. Such facilities encourage business collaboration and provide opportunities for product aggregation, information sharing, and partnering on events and market promotion.

The Economic Development Committee has been kicking this around some time as part of the Exit 9 Economic Center. Long before the television show Alex, Inc. came out an put these types of spaces into a more public view.

In the three areas discussed above, we have vacant commercial floor space that might be attractive for reuse in this fashion. Imagine, start-up space for quilters (happening int he Holyoke Innovation Center), 3-D printing services, podcasts (yes that is part of Alex, Inc. but also part of the Holyoke Innovation Center long before the television show). Videographers, computer specialists, marketing start-ups all under one roof. This might be just what we need to put into the long-vacant space in Dennis Port Plaza.

Second, to solve some of our housing needs, and attract young people to town who might be able to take advantage of the Collaborative Workspace, I want to float the same idea to create new living arrangements that could supplant the “lodging house” concept for some group living accommodations. So, here are my thoughts, borrowing from the above and verbiage used elsewhere in the country:

Collaborative Living Space  – Residential dwelling for those looking to share accommodations for economic or lifestyle reasons. and have access to a shared pool of amenities, like wi-fi, cable television, internet and tech connections, housekeeping service, trash removal, etc. Collaborative Living Space shall not be subject to the limitations found in the definition of Lodging House.

For a while I have been wrestling with a number of issues that this could resolve. One is finding a residential adaptive reuse for some of our larger antique homes scattered around town. This could allow a shared living entity, such as WeLive or Common, to acquire a house, restore it, and have it lived in by younger residents. The second is simply finding easily attainable, entry-level housing for our high-school and college graduates to be able to remain on, or return to, Cape Cod.

The need for this as part of the housing solution can be found in today’s Cape Cod Times (Youth outreach expanded in annual Cape homeless count) “Finding affordable housing on the Cape can pose a particular challenge to young people just starting out in entry-level jobs….”

Posted to both the Dennis Economic Development Blog and the Planning Department Blog for maximum exposure. Sorry if you get two notices about this.

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Fostering New Ideas and Employment Concepts

Over the next several weeks or months, I will be exploring new concepts for employment and provisions of services in Dennis. In particular, I will be discussing the ever-changing face of employment locally and across the Commonwealth.  A particular focus will be on innovative and shared workspaces. Believe it or not, the particular concept I am looking at has already hit television in the new TV series Alex Inc. where the protagonist has set up shop in a shared workspace. These spaces have allowed start-ups to flourish through the cross-pollination of ideas, some becoming nationally recognized. You can learn a bit more about this concept here.

Innovative work ideas can also flourish out of one’s own desire to be their own boss. And, some will be creative home occupations. As we stumble our way through accommodating the future innovative employment concept I will snag ideas happening in the local economy and highlight them in the Economic Development Blog. Maybe, with enough examples, this zoning concept will write itself.  Here is one example of a locally grown innovative service being offered in Dennis. She is serving the mid-Cape today, but maybe this will be spun into a larger franchised business concept with its roots in Dennis.

Fresh Start Services on the Cape

With the post I put on the full Planning Department blog about shared housing, the services offered by Fresh Start Services would tie into services provided to residents of some of these shared housing arrangments nationwide. The generation we need to attract back to the Cape relies on Uber, Lyft or ZipCar for transportation options rather than car ownership. They make use of bike-share programs. They think outside the box, giving them broad reach for new career modes. As the oldest town, by average age, in the Commonwealth, we need to figure how to attract these new concepts to Dennis.

Together, we can do this.