“In the parlance of our times, I’d say it’s pretty chill.”
That’s how 1776 Campus Manager Ben Bergman succinctly described the company’s new Montgomery County spot: a 4,000-square-foot enclave of open desks and private offices inside the broader workspace complex called Ambler Yards in the very suburban Ambler, Pa.
The space, announced back in October 2016 when 1776 was still just Benjamin’s Desk, was officially inaugurated last Thursday, and it’s an early iteration of a new model being spun by the coworking camp. Rather than run the space themselves, the company struck a licensing deal with Ambler Yards developers Marc Policarpo and Matt Sigel.
“They decided to invest because of the business growth that will take place behind these walls,” 1776 co-CEO Anthony Maher said at the space’s official launch. “Consider this place both the launchpad for companies that will fly out of the ecosystem here in Ambler Yards or a landing pad for companies to grow and be connected to resources.”
Ambler Yards, which mixes the aesthetics of the company’s University City location with a touch of the leafy, more laid back suburban look, is currently home to some 40 members from a mix of spaces: including 3D printing, blockchain management, marketing and software development.
What an exciting evening last night at @AmblerYards for the launch of @1776PHL Ambler Yards w/ @mattsigel & #MarcPolicarpo! Special thanks to @moorened & @goldenpmike for their thought leadership during the event. #WhereRevolutionsBegin #RibbonCutting pic.twitter.com/YD9Fny7fsq
— Anthony Maher (@AnthonyMaher12) April 14, 2018
Policarpo said investments into the Ambler Yards redevelopment, a 285,000-square-foot industrial park with 14 buildings scattered across 6.5 acres of land, hit the $10 million mark, with another $5 million in investments in the works. The 18 tenant companies that are now in the complex employ about 275 employees, the real estate investor said, with a projected 425 workers by the fall. For what it’s worth, that’s a workforce four times bigger than that of a medium-sized startup like Curalate.
“We envisioned a place that could accommodate startup companies and looked into coworking as the obvious solution for that,” said Policarpo. “We wanted to be part of a larger system.”
The “will coworking space make it in suburbia” challenge is fair to ask of Ambler Yards. The space has going for it amenities like proximity to a regional rail stop and a convenient internal commuter van that brings workers in during the morning trains and drops them off during the afternoon. The ubiquitous 1776 promise of “resources and connectivity” is what might ultimately make the sale for Montgomery County companies and professionals.
P.S. Last time we asked this question, it was of Chestnut Hill-based KISMET. How’s it going so far? Christopher Plant’s company reached the one-year mark and opened a second location in Callowhill.
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