Two years ago, we brought you the exciting news that 3rd Ward would be opening a new location at 4th & Thompson. Straight out of Brooklyn, this art school/studio/community represented an awesome addition to South Kensington, and new life for two old buildings. Earlier this year, after some delays, 3rd Ward opened their doors. And yesterday, not even five months later, they closed them for good.
Yesterday, after their Brooklyn location also shut down, the New York Observer reported rumors of impending foreclosure or bankruptcy. According to a now-closed Fundrise campaign to sell off equity in the business in exchange for cash, the company was operating at a loss. They suggested that this was due to decreased revenue in Brooklyn, advance spending needs for another project, and an inability of the Philadelphia location to stop losing money. To us, this sounds like it’s mostly our fault.
3rd Ward opened in Brooklyn in 2006 and its departure will leave a significant hole in the arts scene there. In addition, there are apparently several small businesses that relied on the equipment at 3rd Ward in order to operate that are now in crisis. For us here in Philadelphia, a new business rehabbed a couple of buildings and flamed out in under half a year. Really, there’s no comparison in which town is suffering more as a result.
On the other hand, 3rd Ward was a really big deal for South Kensington and its closing is a serious letdown for an area that was only beginning to embrace the new business. Plans for a bar/restaurant next door are at best in limbo and are likely scuttled.
Hopefully, the Philly (and the New York) members will be able to get in there in the next couple of days to retrieve their personal items. We don’t think they should hold their breaths for a refund of membership fees, though. And once all this blows over, we likewise hope that another business is able to come in and utilize these rehabbed buildings in a way that benefits the surrounding community.
Farewell, 3rd Ward. We hardly knew ye.