Basement Shift transforms former storage space into hip co-work space

Architect Lyle Murtha walks through the new Basement Shift co-work office space in the basement of Stateline No. 7 Architects on Thursday morning in downtown Casper. The former basement was used primarily for storage until Murtha decided to clean it and convert it into a co-work office concept. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The building currently occupied by Stateline No. 7 Architects at 444 South Center has a lot of history.

It was built in 1917 by the Chicago and Northern Railroad, back when trains rumbled along near the center of town.

After the railmen left, the brick structure was used for various businesses and its red bricks painted over many times.

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Architect Lyle Murtha bought the building in bankruptcy in 2011, painstakingly stripped away the paint and neglect and turned the building into a showcase worthy of his architecture firm.

What to do with the basement, however, wasn’t quite as clear.

Over a year ago, Murtha decided Casper was in need of the kind of cool co-work spaces popping up in other cities in Wyoming and elsewhere. The basement, with 5,000 square feet of unused space, could be the key to making that happen.

But first there was the matter of the space’s condition.

“No one had really cleaned it up,” said Murtha. “There were smells down here, I think there were even animals being stored (during the railroad era), we smelled some pretty nasty stuff when we were removing the paint and polishing the floors.”

Months of work later, Casper can now boast the kind of hip, urban co-work space so popular in other towns.

“Most people working at home don’t need the overhead of a big office space,” said Murtha.

“If you’re a work from home person and you don’t like the notion of always being at home, or don’t like meeting clients in a coffee shop or dragging them to your house, this is the answer,” said Murtha.

Renters get a desk and chair, and open space renters have lockers to safely store their belongings. Office essentials such as fax and copy machines as well as supplies like pens and staplers are included.

“We’re set up for 8 individual offices and 8 opens spaces,” said Murtha.

Renters have access to conference rooms, restrooms and a break room. They can work alone or mingle with other clients in collaboration spaces.

“We see lots of startups, I was a startup at one point,” said Murtha, “and I remember what it was like to try and figure out which accountant or lawyer to use…so I could see a lot of these people mentoring each other.”

Murtha and his team worked to make the space bright and open in spite of being in a century-old basement. The original 100 year old concrete floor is brightly polished, natural light pours in from a huge window at the back entrance and stairs, modern LED lighting abounds, and translucent material allows light to shine through the private offices while maintaining privacy.

Space can be rented by the month, week or even day, according to Murtha. A full price list and more information can be found here. 

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The new Basement Shift co-work office space is built inside the basement of the Stateline No. 7 Architects building, which was once owned by the railroad. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)