Startups
Real estate

The Bourse is getting a startupy makeover

MRP Realty hopes to attract tech companies with open floor plans, exposed brick and more upscale dining options, which has got us thinking about the tech scene's role in displacing local businesses.

The Bourse sits directly across from Independence Mall. (Photo by Flickr user Photommo, used under a Creative Commons license)

Just over a year ago, The Bourse launched a program to attract startups to the historic office building on Independence Mall.
The building’s owners offered startup-friendly one-year leases, which aren’t common among the city’s commercial real estate offerings. They wooed at least one startup: mobile phone charging station company ChargeItSpot. (The Bourse didn’t respond to a request for comment about other startup tenants as of press time.)
Now under new ownership, The Bourse is making an even more concerted effort to get tech companies in the door, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. It’s part of a $40 million renovation and restoration plan that also includes two other nearby buildings.
From the Inky story:

The Bourse’s overhead beams and neoclassical columns will be restored, and its 1980s-era brown and orange tiles replaced with dark wood under plans by BLT Architects of Philadelphia. Upstairs, the building’s offices will be redone with open floor plans, higher ceilings, and exposed brickwork, to appeal to tech companies and other creative users.

New owners MRP Realty, based in D.C., also want to get rid of the The Bourse’s suburban mall-esque food court (h/t @phillydesign) and tacky souvenir shops and replace it with, as MRP managing director Charley McGrath put it, oysters, champagne and bratwurst. (Because you know, tech startups love that kinda thing.) The news points to something we’ve been noticing: the tech scene’s role, whether directly or indirectly, in displacing unsexy Center City businesses.
The Bourse renovation plan is yet another in a series of real estate companies hoping to capitalize on the rise of the tech scenes across the country. We’re saying “tech scenes across the country” and not “the Philadelphia tech scene” because we’ve noticed this trend across the tech scenes we cover on the East Coast. Which is all to say that we don’t know if this real estate trend speaks to Philly tech scene’s growth, or just the buzziness of tech around the country (and real estate companies’ thirst to cash in on that buzz).

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