Five years ago, veteran real estate developer Brian Dacey got into the hospitality business. Dacey doesn’t run a hotel; he’s president of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a shared workspace that rents desks to up-and-coming businesses in Cambridge and Boston.Last fall, the center opened a new facility in St. Louis. In addition to desks, it also offers tenants free coffee and bananas, and plenty of Internet access. Dacey recently talked about his business and himself with Boston Globe reporter Hiawatha Bray.
1. Dacey’s a complete Bostonian — born here, educated at Boston College and Boston University.
“Really a creature of Boston and Cambridge,” he said. “One set of grandparents and family grew up in Cambridge and the other in downtown Boston. One grandfather had a grocery business where Tech Square is, on Main Street, and the other grandfather had a barrel company in South Boston.”
2. A stint as director of economic development under then-Boston Mayor Kevin White whetted his appetite for big real estate projects. He was involved in the renovation of the Charlestown Navy Yard.
“It’s having the opportunity to have a real impact. One of the exciting parts of real estate development is, you do a project, and for years after, you generally see that. If your investments were in stock, you don’t quite get to see the same thing. So there’s a physical side of this that’s exciting.”
3. CIC isn’t just an inexpensive place to set up shop. Dacey sees it as a sort of innovation hotel where business people can get comfortable, and then get to work.
“CIC is a transformation business and activity, here in Cambridge and in Boston and in St. Louis. We want entrepreneurs who can come in here and thrive, and we’ll do what we can to support that. Last year we served over 400,000 cups of coffee and espresso, 18 tons of bananas, and three tons of almonds. We don’t provide meals for people, but you could survive pretty well on the food we provide. You don’t need anything else other than your computer. We give you everything else.”
4. Dacey is an Android kind of guy, and not just his smartphone. He’s one of the few people who owns a smartwatch, and loves it.
“If you’re a business where all day long you’ve got appointments, I get a reminder here, and it vibrates. It’s great for texts. I have like 20 automatic responses, whether it’s somebody at work or my family. Another thing I do like is, occasionally, the phone connection. My wife gets hysterical laughing in the background and screaming, “Dick Tracy!” [That’s a reference to the comic strip detective’s two-way wrist radio.]
5. Dacey and his wife, an artist, live in the South End. They’re usually fond of movies, but haven’t seen any of this year’s Oscar nominees. They have their reasons, including quality television shows, such as the BBC detective show “Luther.” But there’s one overriding factor keeping them out of movie houses.
“Right now my granddaughter is eating up large amounts of my time. She’s seven months. Every hereditary, genetic parental thing in your body clicks in on this little child, and it’s great.”Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.