With places such as Globe Dye Works
and The Loom
, Northeast Philly does reclaimed-industrial-spaces-turned-artist-studios well. Come February, with the opening of the Cedar Works
, West Philly will stake its claim in that ever-expanding market .
A former car dealership, the 15,000-square-foot facility is located in the Cedar Park neighborhood of West Philly. Once complete, the space will feature 23 studio workspaces, community meeting spaces and other common areas. "We definitely want to have a community aspect to the facility," explains Andy Peifer, carpenter and cofounder of the Cedar Works. "We’ve included meeting spaces with the idea that neighborhood groups and nonprofits have direct access."
The meeting spaces are already a hot commodity: Training for Change
, an activist training group dedicated to peaceful social change, has booked space, and plans to hold roughly 40 to 50 sessions there next year.
Despite the communal nature of the Cedar Works, it's not a co-working space. "The studios are more individualized," explains Peifer. The idea is to attract a diverse set of artists and local businesses to use the space how they see fit. "We’ve had a great response so far; we’re now 75 percent occupied with a diverse crowd," he adds. Fine artists, printmakers, professionals, physical therapists and potters have all signed on as tenants.
Peifer credits the great response to the West Philly location—it's an area that has been underserved when it comes to this sort of flexible space."There’s a handful of places like this in the city, but most are found in former warehouses in Northeast Philly," he says. "We were lucky to find this place in West Philly, where big abandoned warehouses are rare."
Of course, the vibrant West Philly arts scene will be a huge factor in the Cedar Works' success. "We see ourselves as an extension of the arts and craft culture that’s already here," says Peifer. "We hope to build off that momentum."
The space is currently in the final throws of renovation. Tenants will begin moving in in early February. Once everyone is settled, the Cedar Works will host a grand opening.
: Andy Peifer, Cofounder, the Cedar Works
: Greg Meckstroth