WeWork, the once billion-dollar startup that became synonymous with the shared office space “coworking” movement, has filed for bankruptcy.
The New York-based company filed for Chapter 11 On Monday, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court to restructure its $18 billion in debt and list about $100 million in unpaid rent.
WeWork operates two coworking office spaces in Philadelphia, 1900 Market St. and 1100 Ludlow St. For now, they’re not going anywhere. The company said all of its current locations will remain open during the bankruptcy process.
After its founding in 2010, WeWork exploded, operating more than 750 locations in 39 countries, at one point valued at $47 billion. As News of bankruptcy When the filing was announced Monday evening, the valuation was just $44 million.
When WeWork arrived in Philadelphia Opening of its former Northern Liberties location In 2016, the city already had a strong coworking community. Ten years earlier, Alex Hillman and Geoff DeMasi founded the city’s IndyHall first coworking space – and one of the first of its kind in the United States. Over the next few years, several other startups—like the South Philly Co-Op Workspace, Benjamin’s Desk, The Hive, and Culture Works—followed suit, opening shared workspaces aimed at freelancers, small businesses, and remote office workers of various types in Philly stripes.
By the end of 2019, Philly was virtually overflowing with coworking spaces, with 1.1 million square feet of flexible workspace available across the city, according to coworking industry data quoted from Technical.ly by the time.
IndyHall, DesignHive, REC Philly, The Cedarworks, The Yard, THRIVE Philly, and the creative makerspace in the Bok Building were just a fraction of the coworking options available in Philadelphia in 2019. Other flexible workspace providers offered multiple locations, including five from 1776 (formerly Benjamin’s Desk), three from KISMET, three from MakeOffices and five from WeWork.
Like so many other things in life, the flexible workspace industry in Philly has changed a lot since 2019. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions to stay home and do their jobs remotely, urban office spaces – be they shared coworking spaces or traditional offices – sat largely empty as infections rose and orders, to stay at home remained.
In the new hybrid work economy, non-traditional office facilities like coworking spaces continue to be useful for many workers, although demand may not be what it was before the pandemic as downtown districts in cities like Philadelphia continue to sluggish return to normality and overall occupancy Offices return remain at record levels.
Not surprisingly, there are fewer coworking spaces in Philadelphia today than before the pandemic. In September 2020, WeWork announced this Closing of the 1430 Walnut St location in Center City to streamline its portfolio and improve profitability. A little over three years later, there are only two WeWork locations left in Philadelphia.
That’s not to say Philly doesn’t still have plenty of flexible workspaces for those who need them. Despite closing its original Old Town location in 2021, IndyHall now operates a new space at 709 N. Second St. in Northern Liberties.
Philly also has a number of other coworking spaces. Many of them work in rooms that were previously used for other purposes. Would you like to rent a desk in the same condition as it was? a theater in South Philly? Get creative a former textile factory in Port Richmond? In an indoor office, cross things off your to-do list iconic Wanamaker building? Philadelphia’s coworking scene still offers a variety of unique places to get things done, no matter what WeWork’s fate may be.