The Cedar Works: West Philly vacancy becomes artist coworking [PHOTOS] - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 24, 2013 8:30 am

The Cedar Works: West Philly vacancy becomes artist coworking [PHOTOS]

The 15,000 square foot space includes a 3,000 square foot woodshop and workshop, a space for neighborhood events, a patio and 20 studios, which are all occupied. About 50 people work out of The Cedar Works, including a guitar maker, a therapist, a jewelry maker and the members of a fledgling social entrepreneurship think tank.
Photos by Aidan Un for Technically Philly.

It was once a Studebaker car dealership. It was also a roller skating rink and a metalworking shop called Iron Men, Inc. But when Linford Martin and Andy Pfeifer found the nearly century-old West Philadelphia property two years ago, it was just a mess.

Tucked away on a small, residential side street around the corner from 49th Street and Baltimore Avenue, the property had sat vacant for 10 years, its facade obscured by overgrown trees and its lot covered in trash.

But it was perfect for Martin and Pfeifer, contractors who had been searching for a large industrial space to turn into a shared artists workspace.

Before it launched in January 2013, The Cedar Works had been out of use for 10 years and sat on a vacant, overgrown lot. Photo courtesy of The Cedar Works.

In January 2013, The Cedar Works formally opened its doors at  4919 Pentridge Street. It’s something of an anomaly in West Philadelphia, where industrial buildings repurposed as artist workspaces aren’t as common like they are in the riverwards of Kensington or Port Richmond (see: The Loom, Globe Dye Works).

The 15,000 square foot space includes a 3,000 square foot woodshop and workshop, a space for neighborhood events, a patio and 20 studios, which are all occupied. About 50 people work out of The Cedar Works, including a guitar maker, a therapist, a jewelry maker and the members of a fledgling social entrepreneurship think tank. There’s even a coworking space, occupied by a freelance web developer, a GIS analyst and a staffer from Wayne-based sales software company PipelineDeals, inside one of the studios.

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It wasn’t hard to find tenants for the space, Martin said, since the area is filled with artists and other creative professionals. He and Pfeifer had heard that there was a need for this kind of space in the neighborhood — 90 percent of The Cedar Works’ members live within walking distance, said Martin, who has lived in West Philadelphia for 15 years. They had already filled half the  studio spaces when they launched, he said.

The Cedar Works is tucked away on a small residential side street parallel to Baltimore Avenue.

The Cedar Works was definitely a fixer-upper, said Martin, who was wearing an “Extreme Home Makeover” T-shirt when we visited. The pair spent a year renovating the space: tearing down walls, planting trees and grass, replacing the roof.

Today, the property is no frills: the nearly two dozen private studios each have simple wooden doors and are connected by a hallway with mostly sparse, white walls. Everything is doused in natural light, thanks to the many skylights scattered across the high ceilings.

That might be why photographers flock to the space, Martin said: the Cedar Works has four.

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Inside Michele Judge’s jewelry making studio in The Cedar Works.

A pottery studio inside The Cedar Works.

Ken Beidler, the owner of this pottery studio, sublets this space (along with his equipment, like his kiln) to other potters.

Software developer Jeff Frankl (left) and GIS analyst Lauren Parker in their coworking space within The Cedar Works.

A guitar maker is one of the tenants who works inside The Cedar Works’ 3,000 square foot woodshop and workshop.

The Cedar Works cofounders Linford Martin and Andy Pfeifer, who are also contractors, keep their tools in The Cedar Works’ workshop.

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One member is renovating a lunch trailer and plans to sell food at events and parks.

With his business partner Andy Pfeifer, Linford Martin (pictured) spent a year renovating the The Cedar Works property.

Photos of what The Cedar Works property used to be line the walls.

A social entrepreneurship think tank calls The Cedar Works home. The team is currently focused on vacant lots.

Remnants of the building’s previous identity. This is inside The Cedar Works’ community and events space.

The Cedar Work’s community space, which overlooks the patio, is open for member events, as well as neighborhood events. It has hosted a Liberian music group and a violin recital.

The Cedar Works’ patio.

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