Main Street Manayunk can be known again more for making than consuming, with a little work.
Two brothers hope a multi-faceted coworking space in a former 1920s-era power substation can breathe old life into Manayunk. They want some of the neighborhood’s industrial and maker roots to come back to a place better known now for its fair share of drunken escapades. Some of Main Street’s small shops may think otherwise, but have you been on Main Street on a Saturday night when nearby colleges are in session?
Adam and Simon Rogers envision The Transfer Station as a four-story space that offers coworking, classes, storefronts, a black box theatre and a garden cafe. It feels a bit like a Manayunk version of 3rd Ward, the new coworking and education space in Kensington.
The brothers, who have lived in Manayunk for nearly a decade and grew up in nearby Mt. Airy, said they’ve seen the neighborhood “rise and fall over the years” and hope The Transfer Station can revive the northwest neighborhood’s “artisan and small business entrepreneurial spirit.”
“We hope our facility will make Main Street accessible once again to those who were originally responsible for its reputation and who have subsequently been priced out of the market,” said Simon Rogers in an email.
Before they embark on the project, the brothers want to hear from the community and people who would be interested in joining the space. They have an agreement of sale that allows them to purchase the building at 114 Green Lane, right off Main Street, within the next five months, Simon Rogers said. The city assesses the property at $363,000, likely due to its need for renovation. The launch date and final plans for the space will depend on the feedback the team gets in the next five months.
The marketing outreach the Rogers brothers are doing (see: the website launch, posting on Reddit and Twitter) and the feedback period is a ramped-up version of the trend of building a community before launching a coworking space. Thaddeus Squire, founder of artist-focused coworking space CultureWorks, spent two years recruiting members before opening up shop. Foster and Grow, a proposed coworking space for wellness professionals, has been hosting events before committing to opening a spot. Alex Hillman pins the launch of Indy Hall in 2006 when he began connecting with future members, not the 2007 physical opening of the first Old City coworking space.
They expect to finance the development with funding from various sources, including private investors and with help from tax credits.
The space has capacity for about 40 different retail spaces, including gallery walls for art and stores, and 50 coworkers, Simon Rogers said.
Simon Rogers, 28, runs a creative agency called SLRCG, which is currently rebranding into Transfer Creative, The Transfer Station’s in-house creative agency. Adam Rogers, 33, is a partner at Manayunk-based architectural firm Cadre Design.