South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Riley Kaminer

City approves proposal to turn an empty building into an innovation hub in downtown West Palm Beach

Read Time 3 Minutes

Only a block from Clematis Street where the building called the Thoroughfare stands, the coworking space and innovation hub, 1909, is now fully at capacity and can no longer accommodate additional startups and small businesses it aims to support.

On May 16th the West Palm Beach City Council voted to approve 1909‘s offer to purchase a property on 314 Clematis Street. The 30,000 square foot historic building in the heart of Downtown West Palm Beach will eventually be the organization’s new home while also providing space for hundreds of local small businesses.

1909’s offer included $10 million in cash and over $12 million in services that will be provided to the community. They will be the owner/operator of the building, alongside a local financing partner, Third Seven Capital. 1909 will use this building as a safe space for small businesses and startups in Palm Beach County. Plans include areas for local restaurants that have been or expect to be priced out of their current locations in the urban core.

“We plan to preserve and reimagine this 99 year old building in order to create a vibrant destination that celebrates design, character, and intentional tenant curation,” said Danielle Casey, 1909’s Co-founder.

The Community Redevelopment Agency of West Palm Beach currently owns the building. The government agency previously laid out a similar strategy for the building, known as the 12×12 project. From the beginning, the Throughfare was “for the purposes of encouraging businesses to downtown” and to “give business owners who might otherwise be priced out of Clematis Street a way in.” Selling the building to 1909 makes good on these efforts.

The exterior of the building facing Clematis Street will showcase a few local businesses with walk up windows to serve the public. The first floor will be open to the public, providing eclectic vibes to showcase the individual characteristic of each business, and West Palm Beach’s downtown as a whole. A public alleyway will include plants and bistro lighting, creating a beautiful ambiance for the public to enjoy.

This new space will enable 1909 to double down on their current programming, which includes their business accelerator program, workshops, and mentoring. They will also be able to offer public programming, in partnership with Rohi’s Readery and Elizabeth Ave Station, to bring family-friendly music, arts, and cultural events to the city. The ultimate goal? Create a safe place for all to connect, learn, grow, and thrive.

“We know that contemporary consumers are looking for unique and connected experiences,” said Danielle Casey, 1909’s Co-Founder.  “The right blend of tenants will encourage discovery among visitors, which is what’s exactly desired and has been proven: intentional programming drives sales, growth and loyalty.”

For the past three years, 1909 has been supporting and providing space for local founders. While the growth in West Palm Beach has been exciting to the 1909 team, they expressed concern over the local small business community, which they felt was at risk. Four other organizations were vying for the space, including major out-of-town developers.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to continue providing necessary resources to our entrepreneur and small business community and we’re very grateful that the CRA Board saw the value in our proposal,” said Shana Ostrovitz, Executive Director of 1909.

To learn more about 1909 and stay up-tp-date with their progress, check out


WPTV News clip.

By Nancy Dahlberg

1909 | Partner Spotlight

Read Time 4 Minutes

Imagine walking into a welcoming workspace where you can talk to a software developer, a graphic designer, a business mentor or a startup founder. On any given day, you can ask anyone for professional or personal advice, whether it’s on how to organize a pitch deck to improving your website to registering a non-profit.

A year ago, this dream became a reality in Palm Beach County as 1909 opened its doors at 313 Datura St. in downtown West Palm Beach, thanks to a group of creators who worked diligently to make it happen.

1909, a non-profit organization, was launched in November 2018 by the Palm Beach Tech Association with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, after about six months of strategizing and raising funds. “It’s gone incredibly well, and we certainly learned things along the way,” said Palm Beach Tech’s CEO Joe Russo, who directed 1909 in its inaugural year.

“We are more prepared than ever to support the next generation of creators.”

1909 provides workspace and programming for creators, including entrepreneurs, creatives, developers and designers, all working on bringing their ideas to life. “1909 was built for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs,” said Shana Ostrovitz, incoming Executive Director of 1909.

In the past year, 1909 has attracted 250 members, opened a second location in Delray Beach (135 E. Atlantic Ave.) and hosted four accelerator programs and multiple events. And it’s just getting started.


“In creating this space for people to come together and interact on a daily basis, we are just seeing so many people gravitating toward us and sharing with us that this is what they have been looking for,” explained Ostrovitz. “That’s a testament to what 1909 is — the culture we are creating and the space we provide. It’s about our members, about our members accomplishing their goals and having the impact they want in the world.”

Founding members of the 1909 team included Co-Founders Joe Russo and Danielle Casey, along with Jared Fishman, Aaron Nosbisch, and Ryan Walden, who is 1909’s Entrepreneur Director.

“We’re a startup ourselves and there was a lot of experimentation in the first year,” Ostrovitz said.

“Really, people want to connect to other people and that is biggest value. So Instead of offering so many additional benefits or services or products, the one thing we really learned is to focus on our core – creating an environment where people can connect with other creators, build relationships and thrive. That is the most important thing.  We really don’t have to get so crazy in our offerings — we have something that people are thirsty for and focusing on that is what our members want.”


Accessibility is critical to the success of 1909, the name inspired by the year Palm Beach County was founded. That’s why 1909 memberships start at just $50 a month for use of the community spaces. For 24/7 access to the space and all the perks, including wifi, unlimited printing, phone booths for privacy, showers and cold brew on tap, resident memberships cost $100/month and a dedicated desk with a mailbox and business address costs $350 a month.

  • Community Membership | $50 /Month
  • Resident Membership | $100 /Month
  • Dedicated Desk Membership | $350 /Month
  • Office Membership | Starting at $750 /Month


In year one, Ostrovitz directed the accelerator program for 1909 before being named Executive Director. The team put on a music accelerator in Lake Park, a mini-accelerator in Boynton Beach and 6-month general accelerator programs at its Delray Beach and West Palm Beach locations, all of which included a curriculum, expert speakers, mentorship and connections.

At 1909FEST, an event on Nov. 23 celebrating emerging businesses, music and talent, local bands that participated in the music accelerator will be performing and six selected startups from all the accelerators will be pitching for cash prizes. Find out more here.

Ostrovitz said in year two, the primary focus will be on growing membership and building more engagement and value for members in West Palm and Delray Beach. “We want to provide as much value to our members as possible. They are the true heroes of this story and they are one’s who will make long standing impacts in our community.”

If you haven’t checked out 1909 yet, now’s the time.

“If you’re interested in connecting to local visionaries, 1909 is the place to be and the place to see. There are incredible things happening right here in our backyard being led by these incredible founders, I think most people have no idea there is so much innovation and work being done here locally that is going to have an impact on our community and the world,” said Ostrovitz.

Adds Russo: “Everyone here is doing something awesome, and we are really happy that they are doing it with 1909 and with our community of creators.”

City approves proposal to turn an empty building into an innovation hub in downtown West Palm Beach
1909 | Partner Spotlight