Canadian co-working firm iQ Office Suites grows nationwide

IMAGE: IMAGE: Kane Willmott, co-founder and CEO, iQ Office Suites, and Alex Sharpe, iQ co-founder and president, in iQ's 150 King Street West location in Toronto's financial district. (Courtesy iQ Office Suites)

Kane Willmott, co-founder and CEO, iQ Office Suites, and Alex Sharpe, iQ co-founder and president, in iQ’s 150 King Street West location in Toronto’s financial district. (Courtesy iQ Office Suites)

Toronto-based shared office provider iQ Office Suites has announced its first locations in Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary, while also expanding its footprint in Vancouver and Toronto. In total, the company will add well over 100,000 square feet to its operations.

The fall/winter 2019 roll-out includes new locations at 222 Queen St. in Ottawa; the Sun Life Building in Montreal at 1155 Metcalfe St.; Calgary’s new Telus Sky building at 685 Centre St. S.; and 550 Robson St. in Vancouver.

Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal are new markets for the company. The new location in Vancouver will be its second in that city after it opened a 14,200-square-foot location in November 2017 on the 21st floor of the Royal Centre on Georgia Street.

iQ Office Suites also has four existing locations in Toronto.

This current phase of expansion will see iQ’s overall program increase to about 3,000 desks, said Kane Willmott, iQ’s co-founder and CEO.

iQ targets mature, successful companies

iQ focuses on hosting mature, successful businesses, including satellite offices for large national or international firms rather than freelancers or one-person businesses, Willmott told RENX in an interview.

Willmott and his partner Alex Sharpe launched iQ in 2012 with their first co-working space at 140 Yonge St. in Toronto.

The company now finds itself part of a massive wave of co-working that’s been taking hold in Canada’s major cities, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto. Larger international competitors such as WeWork and Spaces have been swallowing large tracts of office space in those markets, which are already facing historically low vacancy.

Willmott said he has toured more than 300 co-working spaces and sees the Canadian market as still “hugely underserved.”

Landlords and members are attracted to dealing with a Canadian office provider, he said. “We really understand the Canadian customer.”

Expansion driven by co-working demand

The timing of the expansion is fueled by demand: “There is a huge demand coming into the market and so it’s supporting a profitable business,” Wilmott explained, noting “we’ve been profitable since Day 1.”

iQ Office Suites aims to differentiate itself from the international giants with a unique look and feel, he said. The firm focuses on a high-touch experience, meaning more service staff and smaller locations.

“We believe there is a huge value in having a personal connection with our staff.”

He said iQ also focuses on privacy for its members, which can take a space for as short a period as two months.

“We put elements in place both in built form and also technology to ensure that our companies that are coming into our spaces have the benefit of privacy.”

Calgary tenants want flexibility

Calgary, with its downtown office vacancy of about 24 per cent, is a bit of an outlier among iQ’s new and existing markets, but Willmott insists it’s a city experiencing more demand for co-working. (WeWork has also signed two sizeable leases in Calgary this year).

“There is a lot of business happening in Calgary,” he said, “and there is a demand for quality co-working space.”

Calgary’s office market fluctuates quickly so flexible, on-demand space that can be expanded or contracted easily provides a “huge advantage” to office tenants in Southern Alberta, he said.

Telus Sky represents the best and best-located office space in the city, Willmott said.

Space tough to come by in Vancouver, Toronto

In Toronto and Vancouver, the challenge is getting sufficient space to keep pace with the co-working giants.

Willmott said he has worked in the property industry for 20 years, including as a broker, and has cultivated a wide array of relationships that will help his team find leases in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. “In those markets, relationships do go a long way.

“You have these bigger companies that come in and they gobble up so much space,” he said. “Sometimes that can make it a competitive environment for us to get access to locations, but those relationships and the history we have, gives us a competitive advantage.”

iQ’s new locations

Some details about iQ’s soon-to-be-opened new workspaces:

Ottawa: 222 Queen St., 10th floor: Located at the corner of Queen and Bank Streets, the new space measures 13,658 square feet and occupies the 10th floor of the 15-storey tower. It will feature a contemporary loft-style, custom build-out with windows on all four sides and views of Parliament Hill. It’s adjacent to the city’s new LRT system, a short walk from the CF Rideau Centre and Byward Market;

Montreal: 1155 Metcalfe St., 15th floor, Sun Life building: Montreal’s first iQ office in the premiere Sun Life building will measure 33,372 square feet. The space will feature concrete floors, full exposed high ceilings, privacy screening, user-controlled combination sit/stand desks and large operable windows with 360-degree views of downtown Montreal. The historic 24-storey building is a short walk from shopping, dining, Dorchester Square and two Métro stations;

Calgary: 685 Centre St. S., 27th and 28th floors, Telus Sky Building: Calgary’s first iQ office will occupy 25,367 square feet on the top two office floors. The contemporary aesthetic will include floor-to-ceiling, triple-paned windows; 24-hour private balconies; privacy screening and user-controlled combination sit/stand desks. iQ members will have access to the building’s amenity spaces including meeting rooms, lounge and a fitness/wellness centre. It’s located at the corner of Centre Street and 7th Avenue;

Vancouver: 550 Robson St., third floor: The new space occupying the entire third floor and a private ground-floor lobby space will feature exposed ceilings, sleek loft style design and a large landscaped outdoor terrace. Situated in Vancouver’s most prominent retail area, it will provide both privacy and shared amenity spaces. It is situated a block from the Vancouver City Centre Skytrain and a short walk from Yaletown, Gastown, and the Pacific Centre.

Evan is a freelance multimedia journalist in Vancouver, who has covered business, news, politics and more. In addition to RENX, his work has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, B-Magazine, The…

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Evan is a freelance multimedia journalist in Vancouver, who has covered business, news, politics and more. In addition to RENX, his work has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, B-Magazine, The…

Read more

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