AUGUSTA — A new collaborative workspace is coming to downtown Augusta.

The owners of Riverview Terrace, at 227 Water St., are converting the second floor of the building into office space for start-ups, small businesses or anyone else who needs space and doesn’t want to spend the money to set up their own office.

“We know it’s a space that would be tough to rent, which was kind of the genesis of this co-working concept,” said co-owner Will Guerrette during a tour of the building Wednesday. “I think this will be a good use of the space.”

The building, the former home of the Lipman & Katz law firm and a branch of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, is owned by several members of the Guerrette family, including two of Will’s uncles, his father and an aunt. Earlier this year, the corporate headquarters of Sun Tan City New England and SportClips of Northern New England, both owned by Guerrettes, moved into new offices on the second floor, offices that are available to rent even though they are currently occupied.

“We don’t need this whole floor, so one of the things we were struggling with was how we can best use the floor in a way that best uses the space,” said Guerrette, the general manager for Sun Tan City New England. The second floor has views of the Kennebec River and Old Fort Western, but he said there isn’t a need for 9,000 square feet of downtown commercial space.

A number of prominent Water Street businesses have moved away or closed in recent years in addition to Lipman & Katz, including Stacy’s Hallmark, Gagliano’s Italian Bistro and Kennebec Pediatrics.

Guerrette said he envisions a central co-working space surrounded by private offices, several of which would be considered premium suites because of their size and water views. He expects to have task areas, floating desks, standing desks, a kitchenette, a lounge area and private space for making phone calls. The building has Wi-Fi and a gymnasium that would be included in any co-working space agreement.

“Our intent is to let this grow in an organic fashion, and it is a very fluid concept,” he said. “If someone wants something, we’ll get it for them.”

Guerrette said they’d rent one the office spaces Guerrette Properties is using “if somebody wants a top-of-the-line office suite overlooking Fort Western.”

While new to Augusta, it’s not the first co-working office in central Maine.

Gardiner’s CoLab space, at 177 Water St., opened in 2011, and continues to provide affordable workspace. Patrick Wright, the executive director of Gardiner Main Street, said the space’s four private offices are consistently leased and there’s been an uptick in interest in the co-working desk space.

“I see this as a trend that’s not going away,” Wright said. “In the new economy, the new commodity is talent, and what we need to do to attract talent is to provide communities and places where this generation wants to be. The CoLab and co-working spaces in general fit right into that narrative.”

Glen Guerrette, the majority owner of the Augusta building, said in a release that the number of workers who work for themselves, especially in creative professions, is increasing, and Augusta needs a workspace that is flexible, creative and fun.

“More and more businesses today operate either completely or in part with a remote workforce,” Glen Guerrette said in the release. He said the location is ideal because of its proximity to the State House and other state offices.

Will Guerrette said he had five phone calls the first morning after he floated the idea on social media. The space still is being renovated, and he said “it’s tough to show someone space that doesn’t yet exist.”

A political consultant was the first tenant. Guerrette said he has a couple of leads for several of the other private offices. He’s hoping to have at least the first task area and desks installed by Aug. 1, and the rest of the work will continue as the demand for the space increases.

“We know this is a labor of love, because there isn’t a lot of money to be made right now,” he said. Co-working memberships will start at $149 per month and private offices with all the amenities are $300 per month or more. “You can envision why this would be an attractive thing for somebody that didn’t need a full office but would love to have something,” he said.

The idea for the co-working space, Will Guerrette said, came when he was watching his children play at an indoor facility in Biddeford. The Think Tank Biddeford co-working space is next door, so Guerrette went over, got some information and became interested.

“I have never really known about the co-working concept until a few months ago,” he said. “I thought it was a fascinating concept, considering how much empty office space we own.”

He said there is potential for something like this in Augusta, though he thinks renting the offices could happen quickly but may take until the end of the year before the co-working concept gets any traction.

“I love the collaborative nature of a co-working space,” he said. “We hope to have people that rent offices, and eventually we’ll have people renting desks or just using the Wi-Fi or a printer. I mean, a lot of people like a conference room, but they also don’t need one full time.”

The hope is to grow the co-working concept in Augusta over the next several months with the goal of having as many as 50 members by the fall.

Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, said any new business venture downtown is welcome.

“I think it’s a great idea and something that has worked in so many other cities,” Hall said. “It’s attracting more people into the downtown area, and that’s a good thing.”

Hall said he is happy the Guerrettes took the initiative to bring the concept, which has been successful in Biddeford and Portland, to Augusta.

“It’s a great way for people that own their own business to work outside of their home, and it’s an affordable way for them to do it,” Hall said. “It’s really encouraging to see it happening here.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

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Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ