The Real Deal New York

Co-working shop Civic Hall sheds Flatiron office over rent dispute with HRC Corporation

Tech-focused firm plans to downsize and relocate to Chelsea

October 17, 2016 05:30PM
By Rich Bockmann

156 Fifth Avenue

156 Fifth Avenue

A Flatiron co-working company geared toward civically-minded techies is scaling back its footprint.

Civic Hall, which was founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry and enjoys backing by Google and Microsoft, is shedding its 18,500-square-foot office at 156 Fifth Avenue, according to a memo obtained by The Real Deal.

The co-working shop’s parent company, Personal Democracy Media, signed a sublease in 2014 that expires this November in the 220,000-square-foot building owned by the HRC Corporation, according to the CoStar Group, which shows asking rents at the property at $65 per square foot.

HRC “has been unyielding in insisting on a 40-percent increase in the rent, which is unsustainable,” Rasiej and Sifry wrote. “So, we have to move.”

Representatives for Civic Hall and HRC could not immediately be reached for comment.

Civic Hall will close its doors at 156 Fifth Ave on Nov. 18 and plans to open in its new space at 118 West 22nd Street on Nov. 28.

Civic Hall appears to be taking the space occupied by, which CoStar lists at 7,500 square feet. The petition website signed a lease covering the full 12th floor in 2015 with an asking rent of $60 per square foot, according to CoStar.

“It will have approximately the same number of seats, but the layout of the new space is more open and physically a bit smaller than the current Civic Hall,” the company memo read.

Civic Hall’s Fifth Avenue location played host to Airbnb in December when the controversial short-term rental company – in a tightly orchestrated presentation designed to persuade policy makers – released data on its New York City listings that was later shown to be manipulated to paint a rosier picture of the company’s operations.

One of the city’s first co-working firms, Sunshine Suites, recently closed its final location after 15 years in the business, citing competition from behemoths like WeWork.

The co-working king was just recently valued at $16.9 billion after a $260 million infusion as it looks acquire its own properties.