Globe Dye Works, a multifaceted workspace for artists, artisans and fabricators, received a $1 million grant in Frankford.
As old industrial buildings age, some are faced with daunting dilemmas. These structures must either learn to adapt to the ever-changing world, or cease to exist. Globe Dye Works has selected the former and sees a bright future in Frankford.
On Jan. 10, state Sen. Christine Tartaglione and state Rep. Jason Dawkins presented a $1 million grant from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St.
Globe Dye Works, once a yarn winding and dyeing factory, in recent years has adapted to become a multifaceted workspace for artists, artisans and fabricators.
“They have been a really good partner for the neighborhood,” said Tartaglione. “Places like this are going to build the neighborhood one block at a time.”
This unique space is home to painters, photographers, floral designers, a cabinet maker, a potter, boat builders, a metal sculptor, a classic automobile broker, a tattoo artist, a creamery, a guacamole maker, a coffee roaster and a caterer, with various other small businesses renting space here as well. The new faces in the building have certainly changed the outlook of the property, but to truly appreciate the space, one must look at Globe Dye’s illustrious past before moving forward.
In 1865, Globe Dye Works was founded by Richard Greenwood and William Bault. For several decades, both families managed this factory until the Greenwoods took sole possession of the business. The factory quickly became a staple in Frankford and during its prime employed over 200 people.
Globe Dye Works suffered the same fate as countless factories across the United States in 2005, closing its doors for business. This massive building, with 11 interconnected structures, laid vacant for two years until a realty group saw potential in revitalizing the space.
In December 2007, Globe Development Group LP’s seven partners purchased the property for $675,000. Pete Kelly, one of the seven partners for the group, recalled the success fellow partners Matt and Ian Pappajohn and Charlie Abdo were having in a similar, but smaller building located in the neighborhood at Tackawanna and Orchard streets. Their pleasure with the prospering redevelopment coupled with the strong real estate economy in 2007 led to Kelly wanting to join in this business venture.
Globe Dye Works is home to dozens of tenants from different backgrounds, including 19 people who actually live on the premises.
Ken Derengowski and Allegra Fasnacht were both tenants when they met at Globe Dye Works. Ken is an artist and Allegra is co-owner and co-founder of Birchtree Catering, which has had its kitchen in Globe Dye Works since 2012. Since meeting years ago at Globe Dye Works, the two are married and have a 3-year-old daughter, Nora, and live in the building. What Globe Dye Works has become in 2018 is what Kelly foresaw when the group made the purchase back in 2007.
“Personally, my vision at that time was pretty much as it turned out.”
Another individual who plays a significant role in the day-to-day operation in Suzanne Maruska, who has been the building and office manager at Globe Dye Works since last July.
“It’s also interesting observing how people react when I tell them where I work and what my title is,” she said. “I don’t know how many people visualize a tattooed blond girl in her late 20s when they picture someone with the title ‘Building Manager,’ especially in an old industrial building.”
Maruska, also an artist, is most excited seeing how Globe Dye Works has made significant changes in her short tenure there and believes this investment will continue to better the building and neighborhood.
Dawkins, a lifelong resident of Frankford, lauded the work of Globe Dye Works thus far and sees this investment as a significant turning point.
“It shows folks that what Frankford once was is now coming back to be,” he said. “There was a slogan, ‘Born, raised and made in Frankford,’ because we made things. It was known for the textile shops, it was known for the warehouses and factories, and that’s something we always talk about retrofitting these old factories that have been closed down because a lot of folks have lost their jobs and went into more of a corporate structure, but now we’re moving back to when we made things with our hands.”
The diverse group of tenants come from all walks of life, and Tartaglione believes millennials will be attracted to bringing their business here moving forward.
“If they (millennials) see 11 buildings like this being redone, they’re going to take another look at the neighborhood and say. ‘You know what? It’s worth us getting in here early rather than later. Let’s see what we can do and buy something in the community.’ ”
The funds from the new grant are expected to be allocated toward finishing a new events space that will be used for art shows, events open to the public and even weddings. Globe has already hosted two weddings and plans to host more. The historic three-story boiler will not be removed during the renovation of this space. There is no official date of completion for the events space, but updates will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. ••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com