Meet the latest entrant to Philly’s “pop-up craze”: coworking.
North Philly’s Warehouse on Watts (aka “WOW”) is being repurposed as a “grassroots community workspace” by owner Gavin DiRusso. As the spot works to reconfigure its purpose from the old days of being a nightclub (and a vinyl store, and a manufacturing plant), its hosting a month of pop-up coworking by way of Study Hall Labs, an initiative to “build startup studios and community spaces in under-resourced neighborhoods,” per its website.
“With all the additional space unutilized throughout the week, we thought it might be a cool idea to offer it up to the makers and shakers of Philly,” DiRusso said of the space in an email. “Give people somewhere they can escape the corporate BRO-dom of the other coworking spaces, and just let their creativity flow with uninhibited freedom.”
DiRusso bought the building in 2013, working slowly to restore its walls and windows to their original luster. WOW has 2,800 square feet of event space on the first floor and 4,500 square feet on the second floor. For now, there are no official tenants or pricing structure. It’s a phase of experimentation, an attempt at rallying a community around the newly-revamped space, DiRusso said. “We’re keeping it ad-hoc, throwing shit at the wall, and seeing what sticks.”
The effort behind Study Hall Labs is being led (alongside DiRusso) by its founder Scott Silver, a former high school teacher and startup guy. Over the past six months he’s been working with local entrepreneurs and startups to help them get from idea to product (and product to market, and so on). Among a few fashion-related startups like ModaMatters, he worked with Stanley Griggs to bring It’s Lit! to life.
“Longer term, we’re planning to bring all of that activity into the space, and to create a community of like-minded, talented, and passionate peeps into one space to collaborate,” Silver said.
From a geographical standpoint, but also because of its mission, WOW is well positioned to deliver what reporter emeritus Juliana Reyes once said the tech scene needed: to spread its wings past the usual neighborhoods and make bigger splashes in areas like North Philly, where entrepreneurship and high-paying jobs could have a deeper, longer-lasting economic impact.-30-
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