Work in style at Panama
An award-winning co-working space that is bound to inspire and make work-life a whole lot more flexible.
Words and interview Matt Genefaas
After a transformation of epic proportions, Stark Property creative duo Jaimee and Matt Stark opened the first Panama location - a gorgeous co-working space designed to facilitate growing businesses who are needing flexible office space.
New Zealand is relatively new to the concept of shared offices, hot-desking and co-working spaces but with the rapid growth of Panama now with multiple locations, in the growing city of Hamilton it is clear to see that we Kiwis are well suited to this flexible style of working. Especially when it looks this good!
We first discovered this new development when Panama’s team working on the procurement for the building ordered some Made of Tomorrow items for the fitout. You’ll find various items dotted around most of the properties from our FOLD Ledges in the kitchens to our bathroom accessories adorning the loos. You’d also find work from other designers and suppliers such as Tim Webber, George and Willy and other items they have had custom designed by one of their uber-creative residents' Designwell.
We sat down with a key member of the Panama development Roxana Davies to get the low-down on this epic space to help share the word. Fingers crossed we can convince the talented team to expand the workspaces and open one here in the Mount!
What is Panama?
Panama is a premium co-working space offering beautiful and flexible work and events spaces in the Hamilton CBD. Panama opened in 2017 and since then we have expanded across multiple locations throughout the CBD, now with almost 200 residents.
How did Panama come to fruition?
Stark Property directors, Matt and Jaimee Stark saw the need for nice workspaces without the gruelling long term leases that often forbid small and medium businesses from having decent office space. The opportunity arose to buy the old Hamilton Workingman’s club. This became the first Panama location and it was so popular that Stark Property continued to purchase other locations and grow Panama further. Both Matt and Jaimee have an exceptional eye of detail and design and are mainly responsible for the design and inspiration of Panama spaces and the overall brand.
What was your role in the development of Panama?
I came on board in 2018 just as we purchased Panama Square. I was jointly responsible for finding tenants for the five-storey building and also for developing a functional events space. Initially, I looked after all Panama residents, their day-to-day needs and also managed any event bookings. We have a number of meeting rooms and larger workshop spaces. As we have grown, so has our team and they are responsible for the management of the Panama spaces while I take more of a Marketing and behind-the-scenes role.
How long did the renovation take?
Each space requires a different amount of time. Panama Square has been a longer project. The first building took about seven to eight months and since then, Stark Property has bought the next two neighbouring buildings and we have slowly turned these into an extension of Panama Square.
Tell us about any nomination/awards the development has won?
Panama was named a finalist in the 2019 Best Awards and last year, the Panama extension also won the 2020 Hamilton CBD award for best development over $500,000.
You guys are home to some pretty cool permanent residents. Tell us about a few of them? We have so many great residents across a number of industries and the great thing about co-working is that we often get to work with them on our own projects. Designwell has a lot to do with the fit-out across our spaces and also on other Stark Property projects. Panama is also home to lawyers, architects, designers, environmental engineers, tattoo artists, accountants and we also are loving the recently opened Cream Eatery in our lobby.
And the latest addition is a pretty tasty one, Cream Eatery. Tell us about the owners and what sort of food and drinks these guys are serving up? It has been a great addition having Cream Eatery in the building. Owners, Chrissy and Luke Houghton are some of the best in town with years of experience. Chrissy is a well-known baker (Chrissy Cakes) and Luke is a chef with experience at multiple restaurants around town. They started Winner Winner and Cream Eatery is their most recent project after having sold Winner Winner to Burger Fuel.
Cream does great coffee, the most outrageous baked goods and delicious menu food. The cabinet is overflowing with cakes, scones, salads, sandwiches and more. It’s very dangerous with tasty smells wafting throughout the building all day long. Luke’s Eggs and Chrissy’s Cinnibuns are both a MUST TRY.