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March 10, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Amazing is the best way to describe new Ts117 co-working facility in Oak Ridge

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“We have worked to be first to market with a product that has not been seen in the Knoxville area,” Rick Chinn, a Partner in Oak Ridge-based R & R Properties, says in describing the transformation of a significant portion of the 701 Scarboro Building into the Ts117 co-working facility.

During two recent visits – one when it was awaiting furniture and a second with the furniture in, we would say that Rick and Ryan Chinn, his brother and business Partner, have met that ambitious goal. They talk glowingly about the space’s amenities – from its unique design to the warm atmosphere, gig speed internet, fully-furnished offices, video and teleconferencing systems, and ability to host medium-sized conferences.

“Our experience in the office market has provided us with a unique expertise that the customer will benefit from as opposed to someone new in the industry that is starting a co-working space new,” Rick says. “We want this space to be seen as a game changer in the office market. We see the true benefit of Ts117 to be the ways our facility will be able to bring together business people in order to create relationships and partnerships that will shape the future of our surrounding community.”

Anyone who has worked in Oak Ridge has driven past the 701 Scarboro Building on numerous occasions. The mid-1980s building is almost directly across from the Y-12 National Security Complex and along the shortest route between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and downtown Oak Ridge. Over the years, 701 Scarboro has housed offices for numerous government contractors, both primes and subs, and proposal teams bidding on various contracts.

Today, if you drive past the building, you should have noticed something has changed.

“We painted it black to make people aware it is something different,” Rick explains. The new exterior color introduces a dramatic transformation for more than a third of the building that one has to see to believe. Nearly 30,000 square feet has been transformed into what I would agree is the most modern and impressive co-working space I have seen in Tennessee or neighboring states.

“Our goal was to raise the bar as high as we could,” Ryan explains. From a large break/kitchen area to a 75-seat amphitheater and special heat, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology known as variable refrigerant flow (VRF), one can quickly see that the Chinns have not cut corners in their goal of building a facility to serve not only Oak Ridge, but the larger region.

“It’s their idea, but it’s unbelievable,” Richard Chinn, the long-time Oak Ridge real estate developer, says of the way his sons have transformed the office building he bought in 1990. “It’s going to make Oak Ridge a better place and bring more companies here.”

The concept has been in the planning stages for more than a year, in part because of the need to upgrade the space’s HVAC system. What could have been simply normal periodic upgrades have instead transformed a building for a new purpose at a time when more and more individuals identify with the gig economy.

The Ts117 name draws on Oak Ridge’s history and one of the newest elements in the periodic table – Tennessine – that was discovered by scientists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California; and ORNL.

Rick noted during a recent tour of the building that he and his brother have built on the scientific heritage of Oak Ridge in another way. There are 11 elements in the human body – oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. The lobby area has the 11 posted along with a 12th.

“What makes co-working is the human element, and that’s what R & R is bringing to the table,” he explained, drawing our attention to the mythical element RR.

What will visitors and prospective tenants find when they visit Ts117? It starts with a highly-secured facility designed to accommodate diverse needs. The centerpiece for Ts117 is the amphitheater, named for Albert Einstein and designed as a place for weekly TED Talks and other events for tenants. It is anchored by a large mural of the world-renowned scientist on loan from the American Museum of Science and Energy.

(Pictured here are Ryan, Richard and Rick {left to right} in front of the Einstein mural; a photo of the amphitheater looking up; and a photo if you were seated in the amphitheater for an event and looking up at the reception area.)






Among the other features of Ts117 are:

  • 29 hot desk seats.
  • 27 single desk offices and three two-desk offices.
  • 13 cubicle work spaces.
  • 4 conference rooms with two more that could be added.
  • 3 breakout areas, each color-coded (blue, orange or green) and with video conferencing capabilities,
  • 2 proposal areas, frequently referred to as “war rooms,” including one with its own outside entrance.
  • Gigabit networking from Comcast and AT&T provided from a central facility.
  • A break area with high-top seating for 12 plus three conversational booths.
  • Centrally-provided printing and copy services plus 24/7 package delivery access for UPS and FedEx.

(Here are photos of the orange breakout room and one of the single offices.)

Ts117 offers a variety of options for users. As noted on its webpage, the facility charges $25 for a day pass, $200 and $250 respectively for part-time and full-time access to a hot desk that also includes conference room usage, $650 a month for a private office with additional amenities, and $950 a month for a shared office.

The co-working facility had a soft opening on March 1 with the Chinns wanting to resolve any bugs very quickly. Describing Ts117 as a “living, breathing work in progress,” Rick said they could add a workout facility or other amenities if that’s what customers want.

The brothers are obviously very upbeat about the facility, explaining that they will consider replicating it in other communities if the demand exists.

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