Neon Exchange reopens with new addition

Remodeled second floor begins welcoming tenants

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CO-WORKING SPACE REOPENS Toni Bowles, founder of The Neon Exchange in downtown Gilroy, sits in the lobby area of the remodeled second floor. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

The Neon Exchange, a co-working space inside an historic hotel in downtown Gilroy, was open for six months and hitting its stride when it was forced to shut down due to the Covid-19 shelter-in-place order.

The female-focused space, which provides various workstations and desks that are available on a membership basis, was building its reputation as not only a hub for working professionals, but also a viable venue for civic and cultural events in a historic ballroom setting, founder Toni Bowles said. 

A flurry of activity has taken place since March behind those closed doors at 7363-7371 Monterey St.

The Neon Exchange reopened its first floor on June 29 with a major new addition: the entire second floor of the Louis Hotel was remodeled and is ready to welcome tenants to its 20 office spaces.

So far, half of those spaces have confirmed leases, according to Bowles. Tenants include the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center, Zen Bookkeeping Services, Santa Clara County Probation Neighborhood Services Unit and others.

The fully enclosed offices range in size from nine-by-12 feet to 11-by-14 feet, and include internet, a conference room, a wellness center, kitchen, bathrooms, access to the first floor and other amenities.

NEW DIGS Tenants have begun to move into the second floor of The Neon Exchange. Photo courtesy of KM Design & Photography

“This environment is very comfortable,” Bowles said. “It’s an environment that you can choose to engage if you want to. It’s a balance between personal and social space. At any given time, you have what you need at your fingertips.”

Bowles said a grand reopening party is scheduled for August, with Covid-19 preparations in place.

When Covid-19 forced its temporary closure, Neon Exchange had to reinvent itself, Bowles said, only months after it opened its doors to the community.

It began hosting virtual cooking classes on its social media accounts, featuring Chef Mark Segovia and a special guest with each episode.

Bowles said the closure also allowed construction to wrap up on the second floor earlier than originally planned.

“That sense of urgency kicked in, and we worked, worked, worked,” she said.

For the first and second floor renovations, the crews had their work cut out for them.

The Louis Hotel, according to Gilroy’s Historic Resources Inventory, opened on Sept. 10, 1921. The hotel, which was a popular stopping place for Highway 101 travelers, was designed by the Binder and Curtis architectural firm in the neoclassic commercial style.

It was later converted into a restaurant, offices and retail stores.

But for the greater part of the last decade, the hotel has sat vacant as various businesses and special events have come and gone. As a result of years of neglect, the building was in a sad shape when Bowles purchased it at the end of 2018.

She praised her father Israel Rodriguez, who was the general contractor on the project.

“Without his commitment, we wouldn’t have been where we are today,” Bowles said.

For leasing inquiries, call 669.239.0007 or email [email protected]

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