By Carolyn Bick
Much has been made of Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn’s creation of not one but two preservation-friendly and small business-fostering developments in the neighborhood — the Melrose Market and Chophouse Row. But nearly as many businesses have also put another of Dunn’s creations to use in the neighborhood.
The Cloud Room above 11th Ave’s Chophouse Row restaurants and floors of office space isn’t founder Dunn’s first foray into coworking: she was part of the original Hub coworking space at King’s Cross in London, which inspired her to open Seattle’s Agnes Underground in 2012. But The Cloud Room isn’t meant to become one of many in a chain throughout the country. Dunn said The Cloud Room is more of a love letter to Capitol Hill and its specific energy.
Not every bit of love works out. City Arts Magazine, which sought refuge in The Cloud Room space as it settled in to the hard job of reinventing its business, announced last week it ceasing publication.
The privately owned coworking space is meant to knit together the area’s diverse community that ranges from writers and artists to software-minded techies and Microsoft employees seeking a break from the corporate feel of the office. Since opening in 2015, the nine-employee space currently serves roughly 220 members, not including some occasional drop-ins from corporate partners and businesses from Chophouse Row, which are considered affiliate members of The Cloud Room.
CHS talked with Dunn about her life as a developer on Capitol Hill and what she set out to make with The Cloud Room.
How did you get into development? I just love cities, and I always have. I had just spent 10 years in tech at the beginning of my career, and it was fun, and it was challenging, but it wasn’t really where my heart was, and I’d always wanted to be, I don’t know, an architect, or an urban planner. But the skills that I brought to it were more business skills with a kind of strong amateur skill set. I made it back to school to do different things, but architecture never ended up being one of them, and I think that’s because I accidentally got started on a couple projects, and then I was in it as a developer. Continue reading