United Way of the Greater Capital Region Announces The Blake Annex, a Collaborative Workspace and Community Dedicated to the Capital Region Nonprofit Industry

The Blake Annex will be located in the historic Kenmore Hotel building complex in downtown Albany and feature private office suites, meeting and training facilities, coworking, concierge service, and programming and resources aimed at advancing the work of local nonprofit organizations.

ALBANY, NY – United Way of the Greater Capital Region announced today the launch of a new, high-energy coworking community aimed at advancing the Capital Region’s nonprofit sector with integrated resources, office space, educational programming and connectivity to a diverse array of organizations and missions.

The Blake Annex, by United Way of the Greater Capital Region, will be located over two floors of the historic Kenmore Hotel building, partially on the premises of the former Steuben Athletic Club. Featuring private offices and coworking space, and an inspiring and collaborative work environment in the heart of downtown Albany, The Blake Annex will build capacity and promote efficiency for Capital Region nonprofit organizations by bringing non-profit partners together to share services and drive collaboration within and across sectors to create innovative solutions to our region’s most entrenched challenges.

United Way of the Greater Capital Region is a pillar organization in the region’s nonprofit sector, whose mission is to advance community well-being on a generational scale by improving conditions in health, education, and financial stability for all people. It designs and leads collaborative efforts, advances initiatives within and across sectors, and convenes resources and volunteers to strategically address both urgent and systemic challenges in our communities.

“It’s partnerships and collaborations that make everything we do at United Way possible. The development of a designated space for nonprofits to share services and co-create solutions to our communities’ most complex and systemic challenges will be transformative for our region,” said Peter Gannon, President & CEO at United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “In addition to the dynamic and inspiring workplace experience, The Blake Annex will break down silos, increase efficiency and capacity, inspire thought leadership, drive creative collisions, and elevate the critical role nonprofits play in building strong communities.”

The Blake Annex is named for the builder of the Kenmore building, one of downtown’s most iconic historic buildings. Adam Blake, Jr., the son of a slave, became among nineteenth-century Albany’s most successful businesspeople, making his way as a restaurateur and eventually hotelier. He opened The Kenmore Hotel in 1878, which was hailed as “the most elegant structure on the finest street in Albany.” 

The 25,000-square-foot flexible workspace features office suites of various sizes and configurations, multiple open coworking areas, dedicated desks, meetings rooms, and a training room facility capable of hosting up to 100 participants for large meetings or training sessions. The Blake Annex will observe comprehensive Covid-19 mitigation protocols, including but not limited to mandatory masking in common areas, extensive cleaning schedules, sanitizer stations, and contact tracing for all visitors.

Members will also enjoy access to a fresh brewed local coffee, unmetered use of meeting rooms equipped with presentation and videoconferencing technology, fast and secure internet access, content creation lab, mailing and package handling, and access to a nursing mothers room, among the many amenities. Garage parking is available nearby, and full-time members will enjoy 24/7 access to the space. The Blake Annex will be fully staffed during operating hours.

Additionally, full-time members of The Blake Annex will have access to the amenities at The Kenmore, including a fitness center, rooftop deck, interior dog park and interior atrium garden. United Way partnered with Redburn Development on the construction of The Blake Annex, transforming the space into a modern, thoughtful environment that also preserves the building’s historic character. Redburn Development is investing $82 million in eight prominent downtown Albany buildings, creating 300 mixed-income apartments and more than 75,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The spaces are nearly 100 percent occupied.

Several important regional organizations have already become members of The Blake Annex and will be commencing operations while the space’s fit-up period is completed. They include Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Girls on the Run Capital Region, and CEK RN Consulting, Inc. Each organization is re-locating their operations and staffs to The Blake Annex.

“Development of The Blake Annex, which is about more than new office space, has been years in the making and on behalf of the United Way Board of Directors, I am excited to see it announced today,” said UWGCR Board Chair Carm Basile. “The partnerships and collaboration developed at The Blake Annex will help us to be better and to fulfill our mission to improve the health, education and financial stability for the people who live in the Capital Region. Congratulations to Peter and the entire United Way team on a job well done.”

“Today’s news from United Way of the Greater Capital Region announcing The Blake Annex embodies much of what makes our region such a special place,” said Congressman Paul Tonko. “The facility will take strong steps to drive innovation and lasting partnerships forward while paying homage to the historic significance of the Kenmore building and Adam Blake Jr.—the pioneer behind it. Congratulations to everyone who has brought this project to life. I’m excited to see this new, innovative space foster further collaboration and growth, not only among our numerous local non-profits, but for our community as a whole.”

The Blake Annex is an exciting, high-energy location for area non-profits to collaborate, integrate their activities with access to the fitness center, dog park, and garden, and collectively make strides in meeting the needs of the Capital Region,” said Senator Neil Breslin.

“Put simply, United Way is a force for good in the Greater Capital Region,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “A fusion of nonprofit organizations from around the Capital Region in a coworking space spanning two of Albany most historical buildings – the Kenmore Hotel and Steuben Club – illustrates the recovery and now rebound of our area’s regional economy. In the 21st Century and in a post-COVID economy, this collaboration and partnership with other organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Prevent Child Abuse NY will transform the work these nonprofits, including United Way, are able to do and those they’re able to serve. These investments are exactly what we need in downtown Albany to continue revitalizing our region’s core. I commend Peter Gannon, the host of nonprofits who’ve found a new home at The Blake Annex, and Redburn Development for making this transformative project a reality.” 

Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said: “The Blake Annex will be a wonderful addition to the heart of downtown Albany. For local nonprofits the inter-organizational interactions that come with a co-working space like this can be incredibly helpful. This new business will provide a place for nonprofits to meet, work and grow their business with a flexible office setting.”

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “The transformation of the former Kenmore Hotel and creation of The Blake Annex highlights the state’s approach to revitalizing our urban cores and spurring new investments that will generate sustainable growth. United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s new collaborative workspace will not only present new opportunities for local nonprofit organizations but also bring more people back to Downtown Albany as we build back better in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

“I have been proud to partner with United Way of the Greater Capital Region throughout the pandemic and long before it, because this organization has a proven track record of improving lives. With the end of COVID in sight, but with many still struggling in its aftermath, this co-working space couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “United Way’s latest venture will pay dividends by not only supporting the missions of other like-minded nonprofits, but by also breathing new life into the historic Kenmore and the entire Downtown Albany community, and continuing the progress we’re making in the area.”

“Co-working space has been a proven asset to for-profit businesses, and now this workspace model is being applied to our non-profit sector in a beautiful, newly renovated space right in the heart of Downtown Albany,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.  “I want to thank Redburn Development for their continued investment in North Pearl Street, and Peter Gannon and United Way for the foresight to develop this type of dynamic workspace specifically designated for nonprofits. The Blake Annex will surely offer a collaborative environment for nonprofits to thrive in and produce an even stronger local nonprofit community in Albany’s newest neighborhood.”

“Redburn Development believes that The Blake Annex is the perfect capstone to the Kenmore Revitalization in Downtown Albany,” said Jeffrey Buell, Redburn Development principal. “United Way is planting two flags in the ground- belief in our downtowns and belief in the non-profit sector, that these two spaces will lead our growth in the coming decades. It is a bold and ambitious move. We are proud to play a role.”

“I am delighted that Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR) has become a member of The Blake Annex,” states Lea Montalto-Rook, BBBSCR Chief Executive Officer. “I look forward to the efficiencies and amenities that this membership will provide. This unique, flexible workspace will allow our staff and board to network and form creative partnerships and innovative programs. The efficiencies will also ensure that a greater percentage of our revenue is devoted to igniting the potential of youth in the Capital Region.”

“I am confident that being a part of The Blake Annex community will be a tremendous benefit to Prevent Child Abuse New York, not only by creating efficiencies, but by presenting us with new opportunities to connect and collaborate. United Way has spent a lot of time and energy considering the needs of the nonprofit sector, and The Blake Annex is going to provide a tremendous resource in meeting those needs,” said Timothy Hathaway, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse New York.

“Being a part of The Blake Annex community will be a tremendous benefit to our staff, volunteers, supporters, and most of all the girls and families we serve. The space is only part of the appeal for Girls on the Run. We’re equally excited for the opportunity to be a part of growing and expanding the impact of the nonprofit sector in the Capital Region,” said Girls on the Run Capital Region Executive Director Sarah Smith Syden.

“As a growing organization, the model at The Blake Annex is ideal for our needs. Having flexibility in our workspace will help us not only meet the current needs of our clients, but also positions us to make greater future impacts. What United Way is doing to break down barriers in the nonprofit industry will have a positive effect on the entire region,” said CEK RN Consulting, Inc., Founder Coretta Killikelly.

In addition to the myriad programming, educational, and collaborative benefits associated with membership, nonprofit organizations stand to lower their overhead through membership at The Blake Annex. Organizations transitioning to a private office in a shared workspace environment stand to save up to 47% on the cost of a traditional commercial office lease.

For more information on The Blake Annex, visit www.theblakeannex.org. Tours are currently by appointment only, and can be scheduled via the website or by emailing info@theblakeannex.org.