Downtown’s redevelopment and the Arts District’s First Friday hipness draw all the urban publicity in Sin City, but in between those two Las Vegas business districts exists a “no man’s land” that served as the setting for a $2 million building investment by businessman Quentin Abramo.
When Abramo, 52, renovated a former 1949-era car shop and opened his 11,100-square-foot Faciliteq building on Main Street on Oct. 1, 2006, he was an urban pioneer. The neighborhood was rundown, with a meth lab and the homeless close to his front door.
But some people thought he was more than just a pioneer at the time. “A lot of people thought I was completely nuts,” Abramo said.
Not anymore. When Abramo celebrates the building’s eighth birthday on Oct. 1, he will join 35 to 40 workers among 11 different tenant companies that call the building home.
“As a co-working space, we developed it as a community,” Abramo said. “It’s more than just leasing a space out. We became a community without planning to a be a community. It’s been very organic.”
The Faciliteq building sits in what officials call the “South District,” a small Las Vegas downtown section bordered by Bonneville Avenue to the north and Hoover Street to the south. It’s an eclectic district peppered by businesses such as a gambling supply store, The Sombrero Cafe, a cab depot, a bond bailsman, a paint company and an X-rated bookstore.
But Abramo’s building has evolved into a work hub of environmentally minded businesses and organizations, ranging from the Nevada Conservation League to a wood supply business called Nature’s Element to an architectural firm called the Assemblage Studio based in the building’s 1,100-square-foot loft.
It’s an unusual Las Vegas building because there are few offices. Most of the main floor’s 10,000 square feet is open space where business tenants can rent a small work area of 50 square feet for $350 a month, a large work space of 75 square feet for $550 a month and a 120-square-foot space for $800 a month.
The building is energy-efficient thanks to an air system that pumps air from below, resulting in a monthly bill of $400 for electricity and gas. Abramo said the edifice needs only 2,000 square feet of solar panels to become a “net-zero” building, which means the energy bill wouldn’t cost a nickel.
Six sky lights offer natural light and reduce the need for electric-powered lighting. Tenant Sellen Sustainability, a company that advises businesses on being energy-efficient, consulted with Abramo on saving energy costs.
Abramo’s 10-employee business, Faciliteq business interiors, is also based in the building. Faciliteq sells modular architectural products such as pre-manufactured walls and access floors.
His business, like the others in the building, have benefited from their like-minded green-living approaches and public-good sensibilities. Tenants refer customers to each other thanks to the wall-less networking environment. Abramo said he gets new customers referred to him by his tenants on a weekly basis.
“We leverage each other’s contacts,” Abramo said. “You can’t afford to be in your little silo.”
He was drawn to the old car shop in the first place because of the building’s bow truss architecture. Inside, Abramo pays homage to the building’s legacy by maintaining several original auto repair signs and even the engine overhaul equipment that was rehabbed to look like a metal sculpture.
At one time, the building included a former residential space in the loft, where the architects work. Abramo opened up the ceilings from eight feet high to 11 feet, and four Assemblage Studio architectural workers design houses in the work space.
Abramo strolled around the loft and quipped, “It’s the coolest work space in downtown — and you can quote me on that.”
Contact Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow @bicyclemansnel on Twitter.