Ramon Gonzalez is trying to respect past architecture and construction styles even as he installs a very modern concept in the downtown Gainesville square.
The old Saul’s building at 100 Main St. is getting both an inside and outside makeover as it’s converted from a former women’s clothing store into Thrive Coworking, a business offering alternative solutions for people seeking office space.
Workers are busily putting up enclosed offices and meeting rooms in an area that used to be Saul’s sales floor.
“It’s nice to see all this beautiful ceiling work,” said Gonzalez, referring to original tin tiles uncovered when a dropped ceiling was removed.
One of the big changes coming to the building, which has stood largely intact on the square since 1900, is restoring windows on the side of the building that faces Washington Street. Passersby can see the outline of windows that were bricked in long ago.
Also, Gonzalez, who is Thrive’s founder, plans to extend the storefront to where columns are now positioned — and where the building used to stand.
“We’ve got pictures of what it used to look like,” he said.
The move, Gonzalez has said, should remove “that ‘60s, ‘70s storefront look.”
Thrive may open the Gainesville location by late fall. The company is based in Alpharetta with office space in or starting up in several other cities in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“We have a lot of folks interested in this space,” said Gonzalez, who gave The Times a tour of the building on Friday, May 20. “We’ve gotten somewhere around 60-70 inquiries.”
When it’s finished, the two-story, 15,200-square-foot building will offer 45 offices and three meeting rooms.
“We offer flexible work spaces for entrepreneurs and businesses of all kinds,” Gonzalez said. “We also have some smaller memberships, like (for people who just need) a mailing address and need some packages to get delivered … or if you need space just to drop in and get some work done outside of the house, we have open workspaces for people to do that.”
Gonzalez said coworking memberships start at $159 per month; private offices, $795 per month; and meeting rooms, $25 per hour.
Thrive says on its website customers can add and remove space as needed and pay only for the space they use. “Expensive long-term leases in boring and lonely spaces just won’t cut it anymore,” the site says.
The two-store brick building at 100 Main St. has been several things over the years, including McLellans’ discount store that dated to around the tornado of 1936 and Saul’s, a women’s clothing store that opened in the mid-1970s and closed in 2018.
It was the building’s location that sold Thrive on setting up shop in Gainesville.
“We locate our spaces in these cool, walkable, kind of gentrified downtown districts,” he said. “People want to be in these places … now that people have the opportunity to work from wherever.”