The founders of REC Philly, a community and space for creatives in Philadelphia, are taking a bet that the sort of “renaissance” happening in the arts here can be replicated in other places.
The team, which opened a 10,000-square-foot HQ in the Fashion District in 2019, will soon be opening a hub in Miami, they announced Tuesday. The southern expansion will take the form of a 12,000-square-foot space in the Little River neighborhood, thanks in part to a $2 million investment from Sean “Diddy” Combs.
“We spent almost a decade building this model in Philadelphia, and what’s happening in Philadelphia is not only happening here,” cofounder Will Toms told Technical.ly.
His partner, Dave Silver, added that there were multiple stakeholders pulling the team to make their first expansion in Miami. They’d been making trips down over the last 18 months, building relationships and meeting with city government reps and others plugged into the creative scene there.
It was an early connection, back from Toms’ and Silvers’ Temple University days, that brought the team to Combs. The pair threw concerts at the university and met Frank Santella, who is now the day-to-day music manager for Diddy. The hip hop legend expressed he was interested in building out a space for creatives in the Florida city, which is increasingly becoming known as a tech and startup hub.
“Our goal is to make sure that independent creators have the information, tools and resources needed to win and level the playing field,” Combs said in a release. “This partnership is about the future of the creator economy and helping REC expand to serve more creators in cities and countries around the world.”
The team has signed a lease on a standalone building with outdoor space, and construction is set to start in the the next three months or so, to open some time in 2023. It will look and feel similar to the Philly hub, and offer similar features like a recording studio, photo and video studios, room for coworking and a performance area.
“Similar function, but with its own Miami community and spin on it,” Silver said. (We heard something along those lines when homegrown The Rounds expanded south this year, too.)
The founders say they expect the future of REC to offer a membership with multi-city access, where creators can travel and have access to their resources and a community in a variety of cities. The expansion comes with a slight rebrand: The company’s website is now joinrec.com, a focus on the future of a more national brand. And the team will be hosting a town hall for its community this October in Philly to get people involved and explain next steps.
But the Philly founders noted that though they might be jet setting across different locations in future years, their hometown remains important.
“This work is just elevating what’s happening in Philadelphia and bringing more focus on the Philadelphia talent that helped us get here,” Toms said. “We’re doubling down on Philly. It has been the backbone of the music industry in so many ways. This is another win for Philly.”
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