When educational makerspace 3rd Ward unceremoniously shut down last fall, it left another organization holding the keys to its three-floor, 27,000 square-foot building in Old Kensington. Impact Hub, run by owners in California, had planned to launch a socially-minded coworking space out of the third floor.
“It was an ‘Oh, shit,’ moment,” said Jeff Shiau, who came to Philly from California last summer to help launch Impact Hub.
But it was also a huge opportunity, he said.
Impact Hub had originally subleased the third floor, but after 3rd Ward left, they took over the whole lease. Developer Paul Maiello gave Impact Hub “a very good deal,” on the building, Shiau said, because Maiello wanted to see it flourish. He has a stake in the neighborhood, as outlets like Hidden City have noted: he lives one block away from Impact Hub and his wife, Lisa Maiello, was the president of civic association South Kensington Community Partners.
Impact Hub is now working on its longterm vision of helping the city’s social entrepreneurship scene grow, Shiau said.
- It’s building out its third-floor coworking space, home to about 180-190 members (though on any given day, that number is lower — when we visited this week, we counted about 20 people) and a handful of anchor tenants, several of which have offices
- It plans to hire two staffers to permanently run the space. (Shiau, 27, is currently the only full-time staffer. He’s also responsible for supporting the Impact Hubs in different cities across North America so he’ll leave his role as Philly head when he hires a replacement.)
- It has been hosting the public-private social good accelerator FastFWD. The accelerator’s 10 companies work on the second and third floor of the building. The program will end next month.
- It’s also been hosting numerous events since the winter, like hackathons and GirlDevelopIt classes.
- Impact Hub partners are working on developing a community kitchen focused on food justice on the second floor. They envision a food entrepreneurship incubator, an education space and a place for groups like Philabundance and the Coalition for Hunger.
- The organization has big plans for its second floor, where it hopes different partners will program its various spaces.
Impact Hub’s anchor tenants are, according to Shiau:
- socially-minded accelerator GoodCompany Group, which used to be located in Center City
- digital marketing agency Here’s My Chance, which moved from Center City
- FastFWD company Algorhythm
- renewable energy study abroad program The GREEN Program
- Knight Foundation-backed black male engagement group BMe
- social good news outlet Generocity, which moved from Center City
- marketing and events firm Witty Gritty
- the FastFWD program (Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Wharton Social Impact Initiative, GoodCompany Group)
Coffee shop The Monkey and the Elephant has also set up shop on the first floor of the space. It used to sell coffee inside Manayunk coworking space The Transfer Station but left when the space shut down.
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