April 1 is around the corner, but tenants at one Denver coworking firm don’t need to worry about getting out the checkbook.
Shift Workspaces, which has two locations in the city, has told its 500 members that they don’t need to pay rent for next month due to the uncertainty and economic fallout caused by the coronavirus.
“I think that this is going to give our community the opportunity to take a breath,” said Grant Barnhill, co-owner of Shift Workplaces. “My hope is that this gives everybody a bit of a break to take care of their employees and really use this as a way to bridge the gap from now until things improve.”
Shift operates at 383 Corona St. and 1001 Bannock St., and unlike larger firms such as WeWork, owns its own real estate. Barnhill said the company has been saving money for 18 months in case the economy turned. Those funds will cover the building’s monthly expenses, as well as the $275,000 in rent usually collected monthly.
“We’ve been in business for eight years now, and we’ve built a community that’s based on mutuality, care and social responsibility,” Barnhill said. “Our tenants have echoed back that they feel grateful to be a part of our community, and this is just one more thing that we can do to act on our values as a firm.”
Some tenants, such as local event management company Corporate Kickoff, are using the money saved to subsidize employees’ salaries. President Reggie Rivers, the former Denver Broncos player who has worked in the 383 Corona Ave. location for four years, said his business collapsed because of the virus, but the $1,700 saved from April rent will provide some extra cushion.
“I was amazed, impressed and grateful for this offer,” Rivers said. “These are unprecedented times, and we don’t know how long this is going to last, but there’s a sense that if you buy yourself some time, you may be able to survive. That’s what Shift Workplaces did for us. They helped buy us a month, at least on our rent.”
Shift’s buildings remain open to tenants. Barnhill said the company has purchased and installed industry-leading disinfection and purification systems designed to treat viruses, bacteria, airborne mold and pollution.