I actually had a couple of friends who did exactly what you are describing. They came up with a business plan with the intention of turning it into a profitable venture, agreed to maintain the property as a tenant would, and pledged paying rent once they became profitable.
In their case, they had a specific plan for making money, which included memberships, event fees, sub-leasing offices, renting desks in shared offices, etc.
They also found a property that the owner was sitting on until the real estate market got better. The owner was hoping to sell to condo developers once the market improved. Since the property was just sitting there and the owner had no intention of improving it, having free tenants in there would be preferable to having it sit empty or having a tenant that required the owner to build-out or improve the property.
They also paid their own utilities, which were billed directly by the providers. That way there was no out-of-pocket expenses for the owner, since the tenants were responsible for their own electricity, water, internet, phones, etc.
The co-working space operated for many years successfully and attracted a loyal community until the leaders decided to go on to explore new opportunities. Once the co-working space moved out, the building was tore down, and the lot sold to a condo developer.
If I were to do the same thing, I would have added a little cafe, with coffee, snacks and a simple lunch menu, or perhaps outsource that to a food truck or another vendor. If done right, I think that would have attracted more people, and provided additional revenue.
The key is that they had a solid plan, and were able to convince the owner that it was in his best interest to accept their proposition.
Remember, you are competing with paying tenants, so make sure you have a compelling proposition.