WeWork in Tribeca: What’s here now and what’s to come?

A few months ago, when it seemed that WeWorks were multiplying around here like Starbucks in the ‘90s, I wanted to get a grip on the work-share giant’s local holdings and see where this whole thing was going. And not long after, things started to wobble. Next thing you knew the bottom fell out on the company, its CEO and its public offering — and now the SEC is investigating. So it seems even more worthwhile to assess its footprint in the neighborhood and see what it means for local real estate when things really go south.

The company has 66 properties in New York City and 11 of those are south of Canal. (Another six are right over the border in Soho and Hudson Square.) And that’s not even a lot compared to the Garment District or Chelsea when it comes to square footage. WeWork is now the largest office tenant in the city, with well over 8 million square feet.

There’s also a new(ish) corporate office at 53 Beach, just east of Greenwich, filled with WeWork employees – at least for now. The company’s chairman told employees on Monday that layoffs will start soon; the guess is 30 percent of the company’s 12,000 employees will go. Founded in Soho in 2010, the company also recently closed its “WeGrow” school in Chelsea, and its “WeLive” long-term rental building at 110 Wall Street is now under investigation for illegally renting the spaces as hotel rooms – and from what tenants say, ruining the concept of shared living.

So as this ship sinks, what will become of local workshare spaces? It looks like…not much. While WeWork holds the most real estate in the city for work-share ventures, it only has about a third of the workshare market overall. And it doesn’t own its spaces — it leases them. So a landlord could easily take the tricked-out glass boxes and kegerators and hand it over to another operator or run it themselves. Gig workers can relax: the model is here to stay.