Tucked into a residential area of Sloan’s Lake, a former house of worship is now a place where people pray to meet their deadlines. Lance Nading, the owner of Merritt House CoWork, has repurposed a former church as a coworking space with various amenities.
“My opinion is that demographic is everything,” Nading said regarding why he chose the church as the property for a coworking space. “The average occupant in Sloan’s Lake owns their own home or they pay a pretty significant amount of rent for their home. If they’re going to leave their home (for work), they want an office.”
Nading bought the property at 2246 Irving St. in 2016 for $700,000, according to city records, which includes both the church and annex building on a 0.38-acre lot. The annex building has been repurposed, but the old church could potentially be turned into more coworking spaces or something else, Nading said. Currently there are two churches using that space four times a week.
Merritt House opened in the fall of 2021. Now that more people are going back to work on site, if not still working from home, Nading said the market for coworking has been better than it is currently.
“I’m just surprised at how difficult it is to fill the desks because that’s the main difference-maker for the business, by far,” Nading said.
Memberships Merritt offers include private offices starting at $600 a month, dedicated desks starting at $300 a month, and mobile desks starting at $200 a month, or customers can pay $30 per day or $200 for a 10-day block.
There are currently 13 offices in the building that vary in size. Members can also come in on weekends once they’ve been given a security code. Nading said the office rentals help the business come close to breaking even. He said Merritt’s largest office, which goes for $1,200 a month, was among the first to be rented, but the offices are also not yet at 100% occupancy.
“We’re very boutique, we’re very small, and we’re not in a natural hub of activity as you would be on South Pearl or Tennyson,” Nading said, adding that it wasn’t social media or other advertising that’s brought in more than half his members so far.
Instead, it was the tall banners with “CoWorking” emblazoned on them that are situated outside the church building. According to the business’s website, Merritt House is located in the former Merritt Methodist Church, which is within the Witter-Cofield Historic District, and was built in 1905.
The auxiliary building was built in 1956 and served the church’s operations for Sunday school and church-related events through 2016. Lizzie Nelson, the membership manager and marketer for Merritt House, said they hope to use the parking lot and other areas for community events in the future.
“Just in the past couple of weeks and months, we’re really seeing a lot more members come in and we’re giving a lot more tours, a lot more free trial days, that kind of stuff,” Nelson said.
Merritt House is also finishing up some of its interior decorating and adding to its amenities.
“We’re trying to bring a lot more local focus and sort of bring in artwork that’s local artists,” Nelson said. “Coffee, tea that’s local, even the bathroom soaps are local products.”