Blog Post

Make Space for Makerspaces

If you have not yet heard of the “Maker Movement”, you will soon know what it is and how its growth bodes well for retail real estate.

Simply put, Makers are individuals who create things. The Maker Movement brings these individuals together to share their projects, create together, develop products, share ideas and create businesses.

As Dale Dougherty, CEO of Maker Media, describes it, “The Maker Movement, like the Internet, is a distributed social network that anyone can join and so it has spread freely around the globe.”

The Maker Movement has led to the need for gathering spaces and thus, the term “makerspace” was born. According to, makerspaces are community centers with tools.  “Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment and education… These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more.”

Lily Heimburger, vice president in SRS’s Atlanta office, observed, “Much like the growth of shared kitchen space, I have seen some activity from makerspaces. I believe an increasing number of retail projects will most likely have communal space for local craftspeople to assemble their goods in a shared space.”

Makerspaces vary widely in size and location type. And while some find spaces at schools or universities, others find space in warehouse, industrial or retail locations.

Houston Makerspace is raising funds to build a 10,000 square foot space in a warehouse district. Their goal is to expand to 20,000 square feet. In June 2014, the web site reported the opening of “The Largest Makerspace on the Planet” in Columbus, Ohio. The 65,000 square foot space is located downtown in a 100-year-old shoe factory. Artisan’s Asylum, based in Sommerville, Mass, is located in 40,000 square feet of light industrial space in a residential area. South Coast Innovator Labs in Taunton, NJ, meets in a public meeting room in a shopping center. BOLT, Boston, is housed in a 10,000 square foot space in Boston’s Downtown Crossing shopping district.

Interestingly, I stumbled upon a company called Brick and Maker. Brick and Maker describes itself as “an open source franchise where the brick and mortar meets the maker community.” The company aims to save empty storefronts and abandoned gas stations with “a new wave of merchants” from the maker community.

The Maker Movement is certainly having an impact on the U.S. economy, traditional retail, and real estate, and its growth is expected to continue far into the future. This Time Magazine article  states that, according to Atmel, a semiconducter manufacturer, there are approximately 135 million U.S. adults who are makers. The demand for 3D printing products was $2.2 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow to $8.41 billion by 2020.

Look for Makerspace tenants to pop up in retail and industrial locations across the country.

By Janie French, Director of Business Development.