CSC is stepping out of its core business of providing legal and financial services to major corporations by opening a co-working space on the Wilmington Riverfront.
CSC Station, which takes up three floors of the company’s building on French Street, will allow people to rent an office, or a desk or meeting space for short or long periods. The site provides business services, parking and room for groups up to 50 people, and it’s right next to the Wilmington train station.
It’s one way for the company to give back to the city, as well as encourage new business to come to Delaware and stay, says Scott Malfitano, CSC vice president.
“We want to invest here,” he said. “We want to create energy. That’s our goal. Excitement, energy, innovation, collaboration. That’s the ultimate goal.”
After CSC, which stands for Corporation Service Co., in 2017 moved into its own global headquarters off Route 48 west of the city center, CEO Rod Ward wanted to continue contributing to downtown Wilmington, Malfitano said.
“We came up with a bunch of different ideas and said, look, how can we attract people well, how can we invest in the city,” and the idea of a co-working space was born,” Malfitano said.
The company deliberately chose a building near the train station — which serves Septa and Acela lines — to encourage people who live in Philadelphia or elsewhere, but want or need to work in Wilmington, to come to Delaware.
“Our goal here, what we want to do, is attract new talent to Delaware,” Malfitano said.
CSC Station won’t be the first co-working space in the city. The Mill opened in 2015 on North Orange Street.
“The Mill set the tone,” Malfitano said. “They broke the glass ceiling. Rob (Herrera) and his team do a phenomenal job.”
There’s room for both businesses, he said, and maybe more as the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be waning and both companies and workers are struggling with how or whether to return to offices.
While The Mill offers heart-of-the-city access, CSC Station will offer off-street parking and a short walk to a train platform.
“I do think there’s room for more,” Malfitano said. “I think businesses are looking for shorter term leases, they’re looking for convenience and friendly amenities.”
He pointed to a Philadelphia Business Journal article that described how the law firm Weber Gallagher is shifting from a traditional set-up with designation office space for each worker into one that asks workers to book offices or conference rooms as needed in a hotel-like arrangement.
That firm’s plans illustrated the results of a survey of 40 law firms by Tactix Real Estate Advisors and Francis Cauffman Architects. In it, 9% said that after seeing how well their companies ran with lawyers and staff working from home, they will cut office space by 41% and 50%; 36% will cut space by 21% and 40%; another 36% would like to cut it by 11% to 20%.
CSC bought the six-floor, 43,000-square-foot PA Railroad Building for $4.8 million in January 2020. They started renovations in March, only to be surprised like the rest of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic and related work and safety issues. Malfitano declined to say what the company spent on renovations.
Co-working space is on the second, third and fourth floors of the building, with 26 dedicated offices. As of Friday, 13 of their 14 offices on the second floor were rented. Three companies are moving in June 1.
All members of the co-working space pay $65 a year to belong to CSC Station. Rentals start at $800 a month.
“Technology here is so Fisher Price,” Malfitano said. “You come in, you bring your own device or your Windows computer or your Apple laptop, you connect in and you’ve got everything you need.”
He says many of the companies are run by entrepreneurs who want to be in Wilmington.
“We have people that commute from Swarthmore and Philadelphia every day,” he said. They are anxious for Septa to offer more trains to the route.
One woman called and said her husband’s company wanted him to work from home but there was no space available for that. She asked to come see the site that day and rented her husband an office on the spot.
Among CSC Station’s tenants are Compass Red, a data technology company; Leadership Delaware; Code Differently, which teaches coding and workforce development; Social Contract, which partners community, corporate, government and philanthropic leaders in projects; the Delaware Data Innovation Lab; and Grey Fox Wealth Management, a financial planning firm.
The area is a gateway to Wilmington that will only be enhanced by Riverfront Development Corp.’s $100 million project to develop the east side of the Christina River to match the west side, Malfitano said.
“It’s going to be extraordinary,” he said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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