An item on the December Zoning Meeting agenda for SOSNA shows that West Philly-based NextFab Studio is considering opening a second location in the building below, 2025 Washington Avenue.
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NextFab is a membership-based cooperative digital fabrication laboratory, meaning that people can join and pay a membership fee to gain access to tools like CNC routers, laser cutters, welding electronics and other equipment. They offer student, individual and corporate memberships along side classes in different fabrication techniques. Access to all the classes, covering topics from software through to the inner workings of specific tools, is included in the price of membership. Individual rates start at $49/month.
It's a great concept, and spreads the cost of capital-intensive equipment over the membership. I think a use like this a great fit for Washington Avenue, a street with a long history of industrial use from Philadelphia's Workshop of the World epoch. Today the street is home to an odd mix of Chinese supermarkets, dollar stores, and lots of home improvement warehouse type operations. Next Fab would bring an element of 21st Century industrialism to the strip, and I'm sure that they would do a great job rehabbing a building that looks like it could be really cool. The aerial view show big light monitors on the roof and the building goes all the way through to Kimball Street.
It's definitely a suitable use, and seems like something everyone can get behind. Operations like NextFab are indicative of the exciting, forward-looking work happening in Philadelphia today, and their presence on Washington would certainly bring a great new demographic to the mix.