The Mill looks to attract mid-sized firms with expansion
WILMINGTON — Delaware coworking space pioneer The Mill is preparing to open 35,000 square feet of space on the third floor of the Nemours Building, offering roughly one city block of leasable office space for mid-size businesses.
One floor below The Mill’s suite of start-ups, Rob Herrera has designed what he hopes is the next act for the company: drawing in existing white-collar companies seeking smaller spaces that offer something different than the offices of the past.
“It’s wild to think that The Mill has got to this scale,” Herrera told the Delaware Business Times. “But I do think that more than anything, the pandemic has solidified coworking as a long-term trend. We’ve never appealed to office users like law firms and accounting firms until now, and it’s exciting.”
The Mill’s third floor has a more modern and clean design, but includes many of the playful hallmarks of the fourth floor. Guests can enjoy a party room — designed like a cozy living room with knick knacks on the shelves and a domino ceiling pattern — with an 85-inch flat screen TV with plug-and-play technology for projecting. Foosball tables and cornhole boards can be used in the downtime, and visitors can enjoy the terrace.
But separated by glass and key card access, Herrera has included 29 office spaces, flexible for big or small companies looking to hot desk or have satellite offices in downtown Wilmington. The sizes range from 170 to 3,700 square feet, and some have private access to the terrace. Early tenants include some start-ups in financial technology as well as mid-size accounting and law firms.
“I intentionally wanted everything to be pragmatic and about efficiency,” he said. “But it’s also to keep in mind that you can bring the two worlds together. The staircase [to the fourth floor] leads into a common area, and I do think that’s exciting. Like every city, there’s these diverse worlds coming together. Coworking is that on a microscale.”
As of the end of January, the third floor was 29% occupied, with the Delaware Prosperity Partnership as the largest tenant in a custom-built suite.
Outside the office space, The Mill’s third floor also includes a boardroom with another custom-made conference table from JKB Designs with microphones built into the ceiling for hybrid meetings. Two other conference rooms and small phone booths are scattered throughout the floor. There is also a maternity suite for new mothers. A private, locked mailroom is available for tenants.
This floor of the Mill has included a podcasting studio and plans to partner with Studio Charter to film and produce shows.
Herrera has also learned lessons and incorporated them in the design. Carpet and lower ceilings help dampen sounds for tenants. Those little details and a comfortable, flexible space to work is what he believes will set the Mill in Wilmington for success to attract professional services firms compared to competition in Philadelphia.
“Coworking in general is a new phenomenon happening across the country, but in a sense, we’re ahead of it,” Herrera said. “We had all these big mergers fall apart with Dow-Dupont and MBNA’s departure, and Delaware just reacted to consolidating that. And we’re seeing mid-size companies that had these traditional spaces and would typically sign a five-year lease but wanted to look outside the box.”
“Start-ups will always be our heart and soul,” he added. “But attracting established businesses, the traditional office users, is the time to do it. Coworking is only successful when you can connect the dots with established businesses and start-ups.”
Looking ahead, Herrera said the Mill will market itself through hosting events to bring in people to see the space, starting with a ribbon cutting on Feb. 13.