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Former First National Bank building in downtown Glens Falls turned into co-working, meeting space

GLENS FALLS — For Christy Alexander, community is everything.

That’s why, in 2018, the Queensbury resident launched WorkSmart, a co-working and meeting space designed to provide small businesses and remote workers with exactly that: A sense of community among other professionals, complete with everything needed for success.

“It was a personal need for me,” she said. “I was working remotely and distracted by everything at home that needed my attention, and also just feeling isolated and removed from other individuals and other professionals.”

The idea behind WorkSmart is simple: Provide working professionals a place to complete tasks and host meetings in a professional setting rather than a home office or neighborhood coffee shop, where distractions are rampant and privacy is scarce.

The member-driven organization offers a variety of packages, depending on needs, and provides a host of day-to-day services, including office and conference room rentals.

Alexander started the company by leasing office space along Warren Street and immediately attracted customers.

Around two years later, just before the pandemic hit, she sought to expand, signing an agreement to lease about 6,000 square feet of space inside the former First National Bank building in the heart of downtown.

The historic building, constructed in 1915, is a familiar location for city residents. Sandwiched between Crandall Public Library and Spot Coffee, the building at 237 Glen St. is where many people would cash their paychecks, at least until 2015 when banking operations ceased and the once busy building was left vacant.

But the building was bought in 2018 and work to restore the space to its classic glory has been underway since then.

For Alexander, construction on her leased portion of the building began last fall and wrapped about a month ago. On Tuesday, workers were scattered throughout the space, taking phone calls and banging on keyboards.

Inside, it’s almost unrecognizable to anyone who used to do business at the TD Bank offices once housed there.

Gone are the drop ceilings that hid the intricate stone carvings on the cathedral ceilings and blocked the towering windows, which now flood the space with natural light.

A mezzanine has been constructed, where offices and a board room with a fireplace, overlooking Glen Street, can be found.

A small lounge is located just off the board room, designed to give workers a place to catch their breath and catch up with others throughout the day.

“People need community,” Alexander said. “People need to be motivated to be productive and that’s the purpose we serve. We provide community. We provide resources and professionals to be around each other.”

On the ground floor, desks are available for use in a vast open area in the center of the building. Additional furniture will be installed in the future, but delivery has been delayed by supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, Alexander said.

Space is available for rental, she said, noting that everyone has different needs. A professional who uses space on Tuesday may not need it the rest of the week, she said.

On the outskirts of the first floor are located offices designed for businesses with more than one worker, along with a custom kitchen complete with café-style seating.

A former vault near the front of the building is being used for storage, a homage to the building’s roots.

“It’s just very grand. It’s very beautiful and it’s a privilege to have a business within this space,” Alexander said.

She declined to say how much the renovations cost but said she considers the expense an investment in Glens Falls, which she described as a close-knit community on the rise.

“I’ve grown up here, so I certainly have hometown roots,” she said. “I want to be part of making a positive impact in this community.”

WorkSmart will be hosting an open house on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. Registration is encouraged. For more information, visit: https://www.worksmartgf.com/openhouse.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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