CEDAR FALLS — Just downstream from where city father William Sturgis built a mill race in the 1840s, a new mill race is rising over the southwest bank of the Cedar River.
It’s populated by people with the same entrepreneurial spirit as Sturgis — in waters uncharted in his day.
Eagle View Partners, the development firm of local tech guru Mark Kittrell, has opened Mill Race, a “coworking and collaboration” suite of offices and shared open working space on the second floor of 200 State St., one part of Kittrell’s $35 million multi-phase River Place residential, commercial and office space project along State and the Cedar River.
“The second floor is 11,000 square feet. Everybody here is part of Mill Race community. We have 26 office suites and collaborative space” said Sarah Bey, vice president of commercial development at Eagle View Partners. Two thirds of the suites are occupied. “We have quite a diverse group of businesses.”
One of those businesses is Cinematiq, which downloads and processes motion pictures for distribution in theaters, taking advantage of the high-speed internet offered though Cedar Falls Utilities. The San Francisco company has been in existence five to seven years, in Cedar Falls about a year and recently took up residence in Mill Race.
“It used to take a couple days for us to download a movie, and now it takes about three hours,” said Luke Kreger of Cinematiq. “The office we were working in was quite a bit smaller, and we just got on a bunch of computers that were running all the time and it got really hot. Now we have a server here, and it’s lot nicer.”
“It’s one of our neat stories,” Bey said. “We have some on the software service side; people starting nonprofits; working with life coaching; we have another guy who’s manufacturing high-power lights for photography and videography — he’s manufacturing elsewhere, but he’s here because he wants to be connected to the network and resources and people here. There’s a certain energy that comes to this space.”
Another firm builds mobile video games. Another is in cloud server management.
“Most of the businesses are in office suites, but we have a lot of people working in our open collaborative work space,” Bey said. That common work area has a bank of desks entrepreneurs can reserve for a monthly fee as well as more cushy seats for those who want more of a cafe atmosphere.
Suite occupants also have access to the collaborative space.
“We have a kitchen area. We do a social every Friday at 4 p.m. called Whiskey Friday. We encourage all our members and people of this community to come here and network and share ideas. But it’s also open to the public. So we have a lot of new faces, and it’s a good time for people to tour the space.
“Our office suites are about two-thirds full. We soft opened July 1,” Bey said. “We’ve got 50 members in total right now, including some of the tenants and the our co-workers. Something unique to this space is we wanted everyone to be in the community, so anybody in a suite is also a co-work member as well. This is a neat work space. There are also conference and private meeting rooms off the main coworking space.”
The coworking space overlooks a proposed outdoor community plaza with an entertainment stage being developed as another phase of the River Place project.
“We haven’t done a huge marketing push at all. It sells itself when people get up here and see it and feel it and start interacting with people here.”
Memberships include complimentary coffee, courtesy of Sidecar Coffee. “The coffee pays for your membership, basically,” Bey kidded. There also are workshops and classes, many planned in collaboration with the University of Northern Iowa. Reservations and memberships can be placed online.
Turnover is anticipated. “Our goal is to get these people moving on. We want them to grow and succeed and need bigger space. We hope that turnover is healthy turnover,” Bey said. “We really lay out a platform for all these things to happen — connecting people with mentors and giving them the right atmosphere. It’s cool as a real estate project. But it’s really about the people that makes it what it is.”
The building also has 30 one-bedroom residential units.
“We had all but three units occupied at the time of opening,” said Audrey Kittrell, vice president of residential development with Eagle View Partners.
She described it as “our young and funky building,” tending to attract young professionals just out of college.
More information is available at www.millrace-cedarfalls.com.