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Site visit: Headquarters Boston, new shared space for making stuff

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 1, 2012 07:43 AM

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I've been curious to check out Headquarters Boston, a new shared space in Boston's Marine Industrial Park geared to companies, non-profits, and artists that make and fix stuff. The anchor tenant, Geekhouse Bikes, just moved into the space in mid-February, and founder Marty Walsh (pictured at right) invited me to stop by yesterday.

Walsh started Geekhouse, which custom-crafts steel bikes, in 2002. The company had been operating out of 1,000 square feet in Allston, but Walsh had a vision of a larger space that could also house other makers and artists who didn't mind the smell of welding fumes. HQ Boston is 24,000 square feet, and the rent is about $10 per square foot. He calls it a "co-working space for artisans and creatives."

Already, Walsh says he has found tenants for half of the space, including visual artists, sculptors, a cabinetmaker, and the maintenance operation of Hubway, the Boston bike sharing network. "The concept is that it's hard for product makers to find a place where they can freely do their thing, whether it's making musical instruments or snowboards or furniture," he says.

Here's a look at the space.

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It's easier to find the loading docks than the front entrance of the building, at 12 Channel Street.

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Contractors are still setting up the interior walls and doing some final electrical work inside.

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The interior feels pretty cavernous; not all of the tenants have moved in yet.

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The floor plan includes spaces as small as 600 and 700 square feet for future tenants.

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HQ can be accessed via two enormous freight elevators.

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Geekhouse's area includes some hulking Bridgeport milling machines, a few of which Walsh found via Craigslist, and a few of which he bought at auction.

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Walsh with one of the company's newly-built steel frames.

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In addition to building bikes, Geekhouse also has a side business in sandblasting and re-coating old bikes.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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