Photo:Laura and Barry Hamilton are designing their Launch Pad apartment complex and co-work space with Millennials in mind. The co-work space is scheduled to open this year.
Florida Space Industry
Keeping Millennials in Space
The industry needs young engineers — and Millennials like a certain lifestyle
Less than two years after buying a historic bank and hotel building in downtown Titusville, Colorado’s Laura and Barry Hamilton are turning the bank space into co-working offices and the hotel into 20 apartments, some of which will come furnished for engineers on short-term assignment. Patios will allow for working outside. The decor will feature space program collectibles and art. A coffee shop, yoga studio and brew pub are in walking distance.
“From the very get-go, we programmed all the design to target Millennials,” Laura Hamilton says.
Target market for the rehabbed space is the young people populating the workforce of young rocket-making companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX. A recent PayScale survey found the median age at SpaceX to be 29. As that new generation of workers takes root, however, companies and economic developers along Florida’s Space Coast have worried that the region lacks the walkable neighborhoods preferred by the stereotypical Millennial. Mixed-use projects with ground-floor commercial and upstairs residential are scarce. The Hamiltons’ project is the first one, says Titusville redevelopment planner Tim Ford.
Barry Hamilton founded Red Canyon Software, an aerospace engineering and software company in Denver that has clients on the Space Coast. He and Laura, a designer and “estate sale junk ie,” also invest in real estate. On a visit to Titusville, the locals swept the married couple off their feet. From the city staff to then-Gov. Rick Scott, everyone, she says, was eager to help them. Laura talks of being welcomed into people’s homes and being invited on kayaking and boating outings. They bought a home for themselves to use when visiting and several others as investments.
“The small town of Titusville embraced us. We just fell in love with it,” she says, “We think Titusville is the next big thing.”
They also fell in love with the old Bank of Titusville building — built in Florida’s 1920s land boom — with its curved staircase and seven-foot high, 56-crystal Baccarat chandelier that once adorned an ambassador’s house in France.
The adjoining old Walker hotel and apartment building, listed on on the National Register of Historic Places, drew them, too. The building had ongoing retail on the ground floor and rain damage, termites, broken windows and “incredible amounts of decay and smells” upstairs, Laura Hamilton says.
The Hamiltons hope to have the coworking space in the bank open this year, with the apartments available in early 2020. The co-working space will have beer on tap and wine in the refrigerator for members and, she hopes, a community of like-minded people who share the Red Canyon vision of “exploring other planets and improving our own.”
The Hamiltons are calling the apartments Launch Pads and the co-working space and overall project Launch Now, a brand they want to spread across the country. In Titusville, they’ve applied for grants to improve the street-scape around their project and are involved in a fundraising campaign to repair and restore an old town clock.
“I love nothing more than bringing beautiful old buildings back to life,” Laura Hamilton says. “Florida has rolled out the red carpet for us. I am so impressed on every single level with how Florida works and how they’re open to business.”
Read more in the March issue.
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