Business will offer freelancer, small-business workspace in Geneva

 
 
Updated 10/25/2014 7:40 PM
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  • 25N Coworking is scheduled to open on North Third Street in Geneva after the first of the year. It will provide work space for independent and freelance workers to have a desk, Wi-Fi, printers and more.

      25N Coworking is scheduled to open on North Third Street in Geneva after the first of the year. It will provide work space for independent and freelance workers to have a desk, Wi-Fi, printers and more. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Did you notice some outdoor work finally taking place at the former U.S. Bank building on North Third Street, near Hamilton, in Geneva?

Office space developer Mara Hauser will open 25N Coworking at that location in January, providing a "collaborative and productive" workspace for freelancers and small businesses.

The work outdoors was to remove old ATM lanes and create green space and a patio setting where workers can occasionally have meetings or work outside.

But the inside of the 10,500-square-foot building is the key. Hauser is planning to provide desks in an open and flexible environment, or private and semiprivate offices, meeting rooms and other spaces.

"We went through 10 months of searching for a perfect location in a central business district somewhere in the Tri-Cities," said Hauser, who owns Hauser Group and is founder and CEO of 25N Coworking.

The site at 25 N. Third St. served Geneva as a National Tea grocery store in the mid-1950s, but it was most recently a bank.

"You know how noisy it can get trying to work in a coffee shop and having to take your laptop with you when you go the bathroom," Hauser said of trying to work outside of an office atmosphere.

"And how about when you are on a conference call and the coffee grinder goes off?" she added.

The new office site will have coffee, a printer and a site manager who can help workers prepare for meetings, Hauser said.

Possibly best of all, 25N Coworking will have "the fastest and best Wi-Fi that is out there," she said.

Spirit of mall research

It probably doesn't qualify as making me a "mall scientist," but in the interest of research I recently made the brave trip into the retail monster known as Woodfield Mall.

My intention was to get a feel for what makes one of the largest malls in the country tick -- and see if any concepts could help the dead Charlestowne Mall come to life as The Quad.

Hopefully, the new mall owners know most of this stuff already, but, hey, I got some new socks at Eddie Bauer out of the deal, and lunch at Fuddruckers. So all was not lost.

What did my wife and I learn during this scientific endeavor?

You need decent restaurants anchoring certain parts of your mall, whether it is an open-air plaza or the enclosed behemoth that is Woodfield. The restaurants were busy and noisy, both good things for a mall.

The stores had a distinct consumer target in mind: Young girls or young professional women with a lot of money to spend. It also doesn't hurt if they are willing to use credit cards at a high clip, even if they can't afford to do so.

Woodfield is easy to get lost in. It has about a million more stores than I would ever care to visit. But not many of those places are losing sleep over the prospect of a 60-year-old guy not stopping in.

Still, less is far better in the mall world, particularly in the Tri-Cities area. We simply don't have enough people to make something bigger click.

It would be nice to see some things Woodfield has, one being a large video board from Media Network rotating in the middle of the mall with news clips, sports scores, the temperature, and the day's top tweets. The premise is that shoppers should glance at that and stop staring at their phones -- so they can look at the stores.

An Apple store, a Microsoft store and Starbucks kiosks in a couple of different places also drew plenty of shoppers and should be on anyone's mall wish list.

Nearly empty

St. Charles has another shopping area that one has to wonder what the future may have in store for it. Slowly, but surely, the Valley Shopping Center retail strip at West Main and 14th streets has become a ghost town.

This was my go-to place when I lived on 14th Street a few decades ago with an Aldi, Grimm's, Critters and Events on Video in place. I needed nothing else in life. When a Chinese buffet set up shop, it was even better. But they are all long gone now. It appears only a couple of businesses remain.

It's a decent location if a retail developer was looking to try something new there.

Keep those comics

Graham Crackers Comics looks like a lonely place in the gutted retail complex called Randall Shoppes.

First Rockford Group, the new owners of that retail strip at 600 S. Randall Road and fronting the Jewel Osco at Prairie Street, had its plan to redo the site approved by the city's plan commission a couple of months ago.

The comic book store, while looking like the last man standing, has been trying to stay open periodically during the total revamp of the site, said Matt O'Rourke, economic development division manager in St. Charles.

That means the comics store will have to work around the dirt and dust for a while.

"The new owners look upon the comics store as a quality tenant," O'Rourke said.

That stands to reason, considering it has been at that spot for many years.

A modern deck

As the Batavia Riverwalk winds behind the Riverrain Point apartments, the bricked pathway leads right into the new walkways and gazebo overlooking Depot Pond and the Fox River.

The project to replace the old wooden decking and expand the area with fabricated wood and steel fencing may not have an outdoors/rustic feel to it just yet, but it represents a significant improvement over the previous setup. Plus, that steel likely will eventually discolor to fit in more with the setting.

With more room to walk and more benches to sit on, this is going to be a favorite place for strolling most any time of the year.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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