For makerspace NextFab, which currently has three locations between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., moving its North Philly location to a space five times its current size is about helping local artisans expand their businesses.
“We intend that with the new North Philly location, NextFab will help support and grow artisan businesses the way that our South Philly location and our RAPID accelerator program has for tech startups,” NextFab President Evan Malone said in a statement.
By late 2019, NextFab will trade its 4,000-square-foot hub on 4th Street for a 21,000-square-foot location at 1800 N. American St., about a half mile north. The new hub will be nestled in the redevelopment effort of the “North American Corridor,” which is currently undergoing roadway resurfacing, landscaping and the addition of bike lanes.
Construction work at the new site will begin later this year, where NextFab — founded in 2009 in University City — hopes to retain the artisan focus it currently has at the North 4th Street location. There, the company plans to offer access to studio spaces, expanded jewelry and textiles departments, expanded storage and capacity for makers to take on large-scale projects.
“Artists, artisans, and craftspeople are a critical, but underappreciated component of the economy and culture of Philadelphia,” Malone said. “Since its opening in April of 2015, our North 4th Street location, led by Melissa Guglielmo, who hails from the jewelry industry, has specialized in supporting these communities.”
NextFab, which in 2017 opened its first non-Philly location with a 10,000-square-foot space in Wilmington’s creative district, will have other arts and local manufacturing organizations as neighbors, including Crane Arts, Provenance Companies, Clay Studio, Sharktown, Billy Penn Studios, PPAC, Colorspace Labs and Paperbox Studios.
(Related: At NextFab’s South Philly location, this smart air conditioner was first prototyped.)
With construction comes disruption: NextFab said it will likely shutter the current North Philadelphia location “for a few months while equipment is being moved,” but will offer its members access to the South Philadelphia and Wilmington locations and offer refunded dues or membership holds for those impacted by the transition.
NextFab did not immediately say how much the project will cost or when it expects to shutter the current space.