Founded in 2014, Gather is owned by six Virginia natives, who have helped design, build, and operate seven total coworking locations in the greater Richmond and Hampton Roads regions.
“One of the main thoughts was ‘we need to have flexible space for small businesses to grow,'” Gather Co-Owner and Chief Marketing Officer James Crenshaw said. “Companies can grow and scale while they’re in the space. So you could have a two-person company join tomorrow, but they have plans to grow to five, to 10 employees.”
Gather Midlothian will occupy 25,000 square feet on three floors of a new building on Winterbreeze Drive. When the business opens on December 1, there will be room to accommodate up to 400 members, with more than 110 offices of varying sizes.
“We are a welcome space for any type of business, so it’s not necessarily a business or a space for all start-ups or all beginner businesses,” Crenshaw said. “We design our spaces so that they’re modular.”
Crenshaw tells 8News that Gather is also useful for those dealing with the challenges of working from home amid the pandemic.
“We call it coworking because if you were to work at a large company like Capital One or Genworth, you’d have an office where you have coworkers,” Crenshaw said. “If you work for yourself at home, you don’t get that. You turn and there’s your cat or there’s the TV. There’s only so many conversations you can have. At Gather, you get that big company feel where you have coworkers that you can get to know, but on the bright side, you don’t have to rely on them for anything.”
Central to a budding expansion at Winterfield Crossing, Gather Midlothian will be surrounded by new businesses and housing developments.
“We’re going to have 400 individuals in the space that need to have somewhere to eat lunch, to eat dinner, to buy their groceries,” Crenshaw said “They’re all going to come here. They’re all fairly successful because they have the income to afford a Gather membership, and they’re going to be able to grab their lattes from Starbucks if they want one, they can go to Row House for their fitness, they can go to happy hour at Triple Crossing, they can bank at Virginia Federal Credit Union, so it’s really going to be a great impact to this development and we’re really excited about that.”
On either side of the Gather Midlothian building, Crenshaw tells 8News there will be retail opportunities or space for a medical office. There will also be a row of business spaces available along Midlothian Turnpike.
“We are excited to welcome Gather to the Midlothian community with their newest addition soon to be at Winterfield Crossing,” Midlothian District Suprvisor Leslie Haley said. “The timing is great for this commuity opportunity that allows for flexibility in the workplace environment while offering opportunities to entrepreneurial ventures. It’s the perfect addition for this project to bring the cohesiveness and energy already germinating in the Village of Midlothian.”
Local construction, architecture, and design firms were hired for the Gather Midlothian project, which has reportedly been in the works since Gather’s inception six years ago.
“We had a plan to have multiple Gathers in the whole region. One of the big benefits is the reciprocity you get,” Crenshaw said. “We’ve also had a lot of talks with local officials in the area, and they’re real excited about offering office space in Midlothian so that Midlothian residents don’t have to travel into the city to work and then come back out. They want to create a place where people can do the traditional live, work, play here, right in Midlothian.”
Members will have access to all seven locations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A Bluetooth app on members’ smartphones will allow them to get into the space after hours.
“If you need to come and have a late night hitting a deadline or if your business is more centered to off hours, we’re here,” Crenshaw said. “Our amenities are stocked and ready for you.”
Crenshaw tells 8News, beyond traditional office supplies and technology, those amenities include kombucha, coffee, and beer on tap. The three-story building will also be equipped with a soundproof podcast room, and a wellness room for meditation or new mothers.
“Working from home is not for everyone,” Crenshaw said. “At Gather, you can come and you can form those relationships and be part of something, and then go shut the door and get work done because we have offices that you can focus on. We provide opportunities for socialization, but we don’t force it on you. You can work all day in your office, or you can come out and grab a cookie, catch up with your coworkers, and then get back to work.”
While Crenshaw says some Gather members at other locations have opted to work from home amid the pandemic, the Gather team has noticed a trend in people returning to the workspace.
“COVID has been a very interesting time for all businesses. For us, we are fortunate to have spaces designed with multiple offices within them,” Crenshaw said. “People are figuring out how to be out in public and do it safely with their mask on, or safe as they can, and we’re facilitating that as best we can, making our space safe.”
Masks must be worn by Gather members who are moving around the space, speaking with other members or staff in the work café, or talking on a phone outside of a phone booth. Mask-wearing is not required when members are in their respective offices, in a phone booth, or working quietly and social distanced in the work café.
“This is a game changer for Chesterfield,” Chesterfield County Administrator Joe Casey said. “Pre-COVID it made perfect sense in serving those wanting a more productive and friendly workplace or those wanting a shorter commute. Now and post-COVID, there are so many benefits in offering a spacious, engaging and safe alternative closer to home for the newfound teleworker.”
There are several different levels of membership available, starting at $250 per month.