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April 5, 2021 Deal Watch

Glastonbury entrepreneur aims for cozy, unique feel with coworking barn

PhOTO | CONTRIBUTED Longtime Glastonbury small businessman Joseph Tomkievich has put his own sweat equity into renovating a large Griswold Street barn that’s soon going to be ready for coworking tenants.

With a major remodel nearing completion, a massive Glastonbury barn is set for a new life as a coworking space.

Owned and developed by Joseph Tomkievich, The Barn, located just off Route 2 at 119 Griswold St., is slated to open in May.

In an interview, Tomkievich said the 6,000-square-foot building will house 16 offices, two conference rooms, a coffee bar (he’s still looking for an operator), outdoor patio and other amenities.

Tomkievich’s father, the late Richard Tomkievich, bought the property in the 1960s. Since then it has housed a Christmas tree and furniture store, antiques shop and most recently, a pet business that vacated the space a few years ago.

Tomkievich began envisioning the coworking space before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Connecticut over a year ago.

“Retail is changing,” he said. “I had to come up with a different concept to move forward with the times.”

That’s only become truer since the pandemic hit, so he decided to move forward with pursuit of local approvals last year. He had already decided to install ductless heating and cooling units in each of the offices, which range in size from 135 square feet to 185 square feet, so tenants can control their own environments. But that decision also means air won’t cycle through the facility, which could put tenants at ease that viral particles — like COVID-19 or the flu — won’t travel through the air as easily.

“The air in your office is the air in your office,” Tomkievich said. “I guess I had insight that I didn’t realize at the time.”

Tomkievich isn’t your typical real estate investor. As owner of the adjacent Mermaid Pools and Spas and All-Fence businesses, he’s hands-on with the design work and physical labor.

While he has hired contractors, Tomkievich pulled up the barn’s former brick floor — about 15,000 bricks in all — by hand, incorporating some of them into an outdoor patio. Others went into a memorial installation he built out front for his father, who died seven years ago.

The Barn is Tomkievich’s first foray into the coworking business, where he will compete with a variety of other facilities in Greater Hartford. He said he’s confident he has a unique offering.

The barn’s exterior has been resided with pine and stonework, and there are also new windows. Each office door will be made of glass to allow for more natural light. Tomkievich has also focused on insulating each unit so voices and other sounds don’t travel between them.

“Most of the ones I’ve seen are ultra-modern and sterile,” he said of other coworking spaces. “This is cozy and feels like working at home, but it’s a business atmosphere.”

“If you think the outside looks good, wait until the inside is finished,” he added.

The offices will rent for between $800 and $1,400 per month, but Tomkievich said he is also planning to offer hourly or daily rates.

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