REC Philly is stepping onto the Center City stage this fall.
At a town hall meeting at the University City Science Center Tuesday evening, the cofounders of the resource center and space for creative entrepreneurs announced that the membership organization will be opening a 10,000-square-foot space at 9th and Market streets.
Will Toms and Dave Silver called their existing five-year-old space in North Philly a “gym for creatives,” with equipment, event space and a network of pros to get creative endeavors off the ground. The pair thought up the organization while hanging out at Temple University (Silver is an Owl; Toms went to IUP), and in 2014, opened up a 600-square-foot space in a warehouse near 9th and Dauphin streets.
As the organization grew — it’s now up to about 800 members — Toms and Silver started dreaming of a much larger space, the founders said.
“We love the window factory, and we love our community, but we need room to grow,” said Toms, who is the company’s chief creative officer. He added that they’re keeping the existing fourth floor space in North Philly.
The blueprint for the new space was unveiled Tuesday night at a town hall, where the cofounders urged attendees to express their ideas and wants for the space, slated to open this fall as part of Philly’s new, so-called Fashion District.
Most of its features cater to members’ creative side, such as a cafe that transforms to an event space that will be sponsored by Live Nation. The space will also hold recording, podcasting, photo/video and dance studios, and a meditation room.
But the flagship office will also offer features catering to the business side, with a coworking area and conference rooms.
Councilman At-Large Allan Domb, who spoke at the event, called the proposed space a “game-changer” for folks who think that they need to move to New York City or Los Angeles to be successful in the creative world.
“I’ve always said, ‘You make a living working, but you create wealth owning,'” Domb said. “Please do it and stay here. Stay in Philadelphia.”
The space will be accessible through the mall, or by its own entrance on 9th street, founders said. This will allow for after-hours events as well as more time for members to work.
“Other cities do not have rooms like this,” Silver, who serves as the company’s CEO and lead organizer of Amplify Philly, told attendees. “To bring together art community and business community really opens doors for the people in the organization and the community at whole.”
The project is coming together with $3.2 million sourced to date, including $1.1 million raised via a Seed Round. Funding came from private investors and community leaders, including the likes of Domb (who also works as a real estate developer), philanthropist Chase Lenfest, TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman, investor Jon Gosier and Crossbeam founder and CEO Bob Moore.
The project is also supported through many local partnerships, like WXPN, Temple University Alumni Group, Live Nation Entertainment Philadelphia, Roland, Shure and Solid State Logic.
Memberships for folks who want to use the space start at $50 a month and go up to $150 for more access to perks and industry office hours. The membership fee includes the ability to sell creative goods at the REC Philly retail storefront in the Fashion District mall.
“What began as a 600-square-foot location in North Philly is now expanding to a fully operating ecosystem, supporting creatives of all kinds in our community,” Silver said.
The team also announced that they’re hiring, but didn’t go into detail about what types of positions will be filled. More detailed information about the space will be available at the company’s Citywide Creative Summit this fall.
“This is giving us the ability for us to plant our flag and say figuratively arts is at the center of our city, but it’s also literally in Center City,” Toms said.
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