Oxford Mills, once a vacant property in the city’s South Kensington neighborhood, is now a center of innovation for Philadelphia’s education community. The project is a mixed-use real estate development designed to provide low cost housing for teachers as well as commercial space for educational nonprofits.
Generocity covered the project when it first broke ground in April 2013.
Oxford Mills was started when D3 Real Estate Development was approached by their partners in the project, Seawall Development Company, who had created a similar project, Miller’s Court in Baltimore. According Gabe Canuso and Greg Hill, who run D3 Real Estate, the project in Baltimore is still going strong.
“We actually were approached by our partners on this project, a group from Baltimore that had successfully developed a similar project that was anchored by Teach for America in Baltimore and it was very successful,” Hill said.
Space for Educational Nonprofits
In addition to the resident space, 40,000 square feet of commercial offices will be available for educational nonprofits. There will also be an entrepreneurial incubator for emerging nonprofits, shared conference and training rooms, a café, a fitness center, outdoor courtyards, and free parking.
“For example, in Baltimore, they found very creative ways to partner with the school districts and we’ve already had some meetings with the new Office of Education Partnerships at the School District of Philadelphia,” said Rev. Susan Teegen-Case, executive director of Artwell, who will move into the space in June.
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“So it’s both, it’s really exciting for us as we do arts education to work in the same space with education nonprofits that are coming to education from many different vantage points,” she added.
Teach For America, which also has a location in Miller’s Court in Balitimore, will operate out of Oxford Mills in Philadelphia.
“Based on their vision of the project, the way they really wanted to integrate Oxford Mills into the fabric of the larger community, we thought this is something we should participate in,” said Steve Mancini, spokesperson for Teach for America.
Current Nonprofit Tenants Include:
- Education Plus
- Education Design Studios-University of Pennsylvania
- Grace and Glory Yoga
- Gryphon Coffee Company
- Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia
- Health Federation
- Scholar Academies
- Teach For America
- Women’s Community Revitalization Project
Housing for Teachers
In addition, Oxford Mills features 114 new apartments. About 50 percent of the tenant population will be made up by teachers (who get a 25 percent rent discount), including some from Teach For America corps members.
“I look forward to being able to meet with other teachers that may come into the Oxford Mills community about teaching in Philadelphia,” said Lafeesah Waalee, a first-year Teach For America corps member who will be living at Oxford Mills. She said that her proximity to the Teach for America Office was another plus.
Tenants started moving in on June 1.
Canuso said that the space gives teachers, especially those who are new to the city, a place to feel more welcome.
“To be able to have a resource at your fingertips where you’re surrounded by like minded people doing the same thing–it makes the transition a heck of a lot easier,” he said.
Overall, the main focus of the development has been collaboration, among both the tenants and the nonprofit community based at Oxford Mills.
“I see the opportunity for a higher level of collaboration that wouldn’t exist if they were located in a lot of different locations. I think the key to growth and progress in education in Philadelphia is policy, and when you have that many hardworking bright leaders in the community talking and communicating for the first time, you might have opportunity for changes in policy or new perspectives or new programs that maybe didn’t exist prior. It’s about collaboration, it’s about opportunity,” Canuso said.
Learn more about the Oxford Mills development at theoxfordmills.com/
Renderings courtesy of D3 Real Estate-30-
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