BEVERLY – The changing face of Rantoul Street has been well documented over the last few years, from the new apartment buildings lining the street to the opening of breweries, art galleries and restaurants.
Yet another kind of business is now planning to claim a foothold on the transformed road. An organization called Gathr Work has received a $100,000 state grant to help open a co-working and event space on the ground floor of one of those new apartment buildings.
The business will provide offices, desks and other work accommodations that can be reserved anywhere from half a day to a longer-term arrangement. At night, the office will be changed into an space for public events like lectures and documentaries or private events like birthday parties and rehearsal dinners.
Gathr Work has run a similar space in downtown Ipswich since 2018. The company's founder, Scott Glosserman, said he found it "unbelievable" that Beverly, which is four times larger than Ipswich, does not have a co-working space.
Rantoul Street, with its influx of residents in the apartment buildings, is a particularly ripe spot for co-working space, Glosserman said.
"The street feels like it's coming alive," he said.
The concept of collaborative work spaces is being encouraged by the state of Massachusetts as a way to create new businesses and jobs and spark "entrepreneurial activity," according to MassDevelopment, the agency that administers the Collaborative Workspace Program. The state has given out nearly $7 million in grant money since the program began in 2016. Other local co-working spaces include Workbar in Salem and Wheelhouse in Gloucester.
Glosserman, 43, is a filmmaker, writer, director and producer. (His movie "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" was nominated for an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films award in 2008.) In 2017 he moved from Los Angeles to Ipswich, where his wife grew up.
Glosserman started a motion picture distribution company and was working from home when he decided to create a co-working space not only for him to work in, but because he wanted to get to know the town and the people.
"It was becoming a ghost town," he said. "All of these old retail shops were empty. I wanted to infuse some vitality into the town."
Glosserman said the Gathr Work site in Ipswich has been a success. Among the businesses that use the space are a company that makes wetsuits and underwater drones for the Navy Seals, and a nonprofit called the Three Sisters Garden Project. There are also writers, lawyers and accountants.
The workspace has no staff. People let themselves in with a smart phone app. The trim in the office is made from pine that has been weathering on the farm where Glosserman lives in Ipswich. There are hydroponic plants like olive, fig and kumquat trees.
"Most of all there's just this really great community that organically coalesces," he said.
Gathr Work will lease its Beverly space on the first floor of 211 Rantoul St., the site of the Canvas apartment building. Beverly Crossing President Chris Koeplin, whose company owns the building, said Gathr Work will fill a void on the street.
"It's a business that doesn't exist here yet," Koeplin said. "It's not just another restaurant. How many restaurants can Beverly have? A mix of businesses is good for the street."
Glosserman said he's still looking for investors to help build out the space. He's hoping to open by the end of the year.
"It's the perfect place to be," Glosserman said as he stood inside the empty space recently. "I wouldn't be looking for anything else."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or email@example.com.