The Firehouse Story: Part 2
I always tell people that renovating an old building is like peeling an onion. The more layers you pull off, the more layers you find, some good, some not so good. In the kitchen and lounge area (originally City Hall), we removed ceramic tile, cement board, linoleum, and plywood. Under those four layers were the original wood floors, still in really good shape for being 112 years old.
That was a good day. Then there was the day my next door neighbor called to tell me that my plumbing was flooding their office, and the day I arrived to find graffiti on the side of the building and my front door. And there were all the nights I woke up at two a.m., wondering if I was crazy to be doing this.
Although my husband supports my dream, he wondered the same thing. In fact, the name of my LLC is Esposa Loca Enterprises, meaning “crazy wife”.
As the pandemic progressed, we continued to renovate in little bursts of action. Ordering anything, like windows and doors, took weeks longer than expected. And trying to promote a new business in the usual ways was not happening. No coworking pop-ups at local restaurants, no group hard hat tours, no handing out Day Passes at coffee shops.
Just like everyone else, we had to pivot and adjust. We finally opened on March 1st, 2021, over two and a half years after the project first began. People tell me this seems fast for the extensive renovations we did, but it took so much longer than I had planned. On the other hand, there really wasn’t any point in opening when I wouldn’t have been able to create enough cash flow to pay my bills.
At this point, people are more than ready to get out of their homes, and I think we’ll see the coworking trend continue to grow. Companies have discovered that remote does work, and many are downsizing corporate offices and giving employees more flexibility in where they choose to work. Our membership is steadily increasing, and I’m excited about the future of the Firehouse.
And we're not finished with downtown Clovis. I had a chance to buy the building next door, so I took it. The "new-old building", as I call it, is about ⅓ the size of Firehouse Workspace, and the remainder of the lot is a yard, surrounded by three tall walls, which keeps it pretty nice most of the year. Phase 2 is finishing that yard. I plan to make it a place for Firehouse Workspace members, photographers, and events. Eventually, I will do something with the building there too, but I’m not sure what yet.
Someone mentioned the idea of turning it into a membership-based or rentable commercial kitchen. I may create more coworking offices there, or renovate and lease it out. Or maybe the best use hasn’t even been considered yet. I’m staying flexible.
After the yard is done, the third phase will be the upstairs of the coworking space, which will become City Hall Guesthouse, three luxury Airbnb suites.
During all of this, I’ve been so thankful for Clovis. I’ve met people I never would have met otherwise, and people I’ve known my entire life have shown up as some of my biggest cheerleaders. On the days that seemed the hardest, someone would stop by to see how things were going, or make an encouraging comment on social media. Most locals have a story to tell me: maybe their grandad owned the building, or they remember coming here as a kid. Everyone seems to have some kind of connection to it, and if they don’t, I hope they will soon! Mitch Albom said it best. “Devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” That, to me, is the whole point of Firehouse Workspace.