After five years, Caroline Collective, Houston's largest co-working space, is saying goodbye. Sadly for its members, the time came sooner than expected. Last week, a shooting that occurred outside of the studio space, which is nestled along the quiet, tree-lined Caroline Street in the Museum District, put Caroline's inevitable closure on the fast track. Ned Dodington, co-founder and director, had hoped they could stretch the space's end into the next month, but the majority of the staff no longer feels safe since the incident. Caroline Collective is officially closed to the public as of yesterday.
Dodington and his team always knew that this day was inevitable. When Caroline opened, it was under a five-year lease with the consideration that the building was always for sale. As long as the owners of the property had the building, Caroline was welcome. However, over the past two years Caroline Collective was on a month-to-month lease playing something of a waiting game.
"It's never been the financial success we had hoped it would be," says Dodington.
Given this fact and the rapid growth of the area and real estate market, the owners have other plans for the space that are currently not released.
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In the five years that Caroline has been opened, Dodington feels they have done something special for the community. Co-working spaces have grown considerably because of Caroline's popularity, and multiple spaces such as Platform Houston on Morningside Drive, START on Delano Street and Sharespace on Preston are now available to individuals looking for a community workspace. Dodington hopes that current Caroline Collective members will move over to one such co-working space and has even arranged for these organizations to meet with his members.
Although Caroline will completely dissolve, Dodington and partner Grace Rodriguez will be reviving their shared non-profit C2 Creative, whose mission is to foster and build connections between co-working spaces and the community at large. C2 has been in existence for the past four years but given Caroline's end it will find new strength. Additionally, Dodington has been working on bringing the internationally recognized The HUB, an organization created to "facilitate the creation of sustainable impact through collaboration," to Houston. He sees this happening in the next few years.
Dodington says that Caroline's ending is bitter sweet. He hopes that he and the other co-founders started something great for Houston and that co-working continues to thrive in the city.
"I am sad that the project is ending, but in the end it will be a good thing."