By Steve Robb | The Athens Messenger
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011
Capstone Offers Literal and ‘Virtual’ Business Offices
A new office park near Athens is offering small businesses a location where they can have an office but avoid some of the overhead costs.
Taking it a step further, Capstone Professional Office Park also is offering “virtual” offices — essentially providing services a business needs without actually providing an office.
“The shared and virtual office options are ideal for small businesses and even nonprofits that want to take advantage of shared receptionist services and infrastructure at a fraction the cost of replicating if for themselves,” said Jeff Niese, manager of commercial real estate for Capstone Property Management of Athens.
The new office park — which isn’t officially open yet—is on Route 550 at the former location of Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action. A grand opening event, open to the public, will be held Nov. 21 from 5-7:30 p.m.
Bob Prebe, manager for Capstone, said the facility will offer tenants a private office, phone system, high-speed Wi-Fi and wired Internet, mail processing, a conference room capable of holding 20 people (and equipped for video conferencing) and access to a highspeed copier. He said rent starts as low as $150 per month.
“Businesses look at the $150 per month rent and figure their Internet and phone would cost that by itself, not to mention all the other amenities they get,” Niese said.
Prebe said there are some business people, though, who want the amenities but don’t need a private office. He cited the example of an engineer who has a home office and wants to keep it, but needs a conference room to hold meetings in a professional setting. That’s where the “virtual” office concept comes into play. For a fee, a business can make use of the amenities of Capstone Professional Office Park without renting a private office in the facility.
The idea of multiple businesses sharing infrastructure is not new in Athens — the Ohio University Innovation Center and the Appalachia Center for Economic Networks do that. Capstone Professional Office Park, though, is doing it as a private entity.
Prebe said shared and virtual offices are more common in larger cities.
“There is really a neat kind of thing happening around the country,” Prebe said. The Route 550 location, although not officially open, already has two tenants. ICC Broadband is already in the facility and RHDD, which provides support services that help developmentally disabled people live in their homes, is about to move in, Prebe said. There is space for up to a dozen businesses.
Linda Bash, executive director of RHDD, said the nonprofit agency was attracted to the site because of its close proximity to Athens and lower rent, and also because of the shared services.
“I think the building itself is beautiful,” she said.
Capstone also manages the former Alexander Elementary School building in Albany, which until this year had belonged to the village. It continues to house the Albany senior citizen program, and already had Sound Health and the Athens-Meigs Education Service Center as tenants when Capstone became manager.
Prebe said the shared office concept was already in place at Albany.
“From the beginning we wanted to build on that,” Prebe said. Improvements are planned, including adding Internet and making the building more energy-efficient.
The Albany building, now called Albany Center, also can house up to a dozen businesses. Prebe said Capstone will be sending out a request for proposals seeking a restaurant to locate in the building, which has a commercial kitchen.
The grand opening at Capstone Professional Office Park, 11100 Route 550, will offer wine tasting courtesy of Shade Winery and local finger food. There will be a tour of the building, and information will be provided on the shared and virtual office concepts.