The popular narrative about emerging neighborhoods is that the artists come, the residents move in, and then the coffee shops, bars, and restaurants open up shop. One important factor in a neighborhood becoming successful and sustainable that is missing from this timeline is the introduction of offices and other non-service-related employment centers. Without jobs being located in a neighborhood, all residents have to travel outside of their community to get to work, there’s relatively no daytime activity, and the area is prone to becoming the trendy spot of yesteryears.
We’ve seen nearly every piece of the puzzle assembled in Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Kensington. The population in all of these Riverwards communities is rising, some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia have opened in this neck of the woods over the last decade, and employers are beginning to move their offices northeast of Center City.
One of the coolest projects to date that is bringing office and retail space to Kensington is happening on North 5th St. between Jefferson and Oxford Streets. Over the last couple of years, the people behind Billy Penn Studios have been transforming the former home of an aluminum manufacturing company into some of the most amazing office and retail spaces in the city.
When you walk into the lobby of Billy Penn Studios, you immediately realize that this is no ordinary office building. Some of the largest wooden beams that I have ever seen and that are original to the building line the entranceway. The polished concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and tall ceilings are a reminder of the building’s industrial past. A mini cafe operates out of a shipping container in the lobby, satisfying the hunger and caffeine needs of tenants and the public. Corners were not cut in the restoration of this building, and it is apparent to anyone that steps foot within Billy Penn Studios. As I sat in the lobby waiting for my tour of the complex, I could see myself comfortably spending my working hours at 5th and Jefferson.
Just off the lobby is the atrium. This area is a place for tenants to eat lunch, take a meeting, or hang out. However, it will also host events in the future. From small trade shows to weddings and parties, you will be able to rent out this space and utilize it to fit your needs. When they built the glass ceiling for this room, they actually installed the glass over the existing roof and then removed the old roof from the inside.
Around 75 offices will make up the space when complete, depending on tenant needs. The team behind Billy Penn Studios has been leasing out spaces as they are finished. Currently the building is about 40% completed and leased. Marketing companies, design companies, a bike share company, real estate developers, a cell phone repair company, a tile shop, a virtual reality company, a cannabis consulting company, a wine membership program, and two fitness companies among others call Billy Penn Studios home. A third floor ju jitsu gym has one of the largest (10k sq ft) and coolest spaces within the building.
Retail spaces line 5th St. Most are already occupied. However, the showcase corner space at 5th and Oxford is still available. This corner is likely reserved for a restaurant. Its approximately 3,500 square feet, bi-level, and contains a ton of original industrial details. Whoever opens up shop here will be sure to have one of the coolest dining locations in the city.
If you’re looking for retail or office space within Billy Penn Studios, feel free to reach out to me and I can arrange a tour of the building. Spaces are leasing quickly as they hit the market. If you’re not in the market for an office or storefront, stop in the lobby and grab a coffee while taking in the details of this awesome building.
Kyle is a Philadelphia real estate agent on the Agent PHL team at Compass, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients find homes, investment properties, and development opportunities.
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