— The old Globe Dye Works in Frankford already houses several creative businesses. Now, owners want to offer living spaces, as well.
The partners who bought the Globe Dye Works almost five years ago have a new idea for the old complex on Worth Street in Frankford.
They want to transform spaces in five of their dozen buildings into 21 units that will combine studios and living quarters. The partners hope they can attract creative business people to an already growing community of professionals.
Globe Dye Works was once a company that dyed yarn. The whole complex has industrial zoning, so Globe Development Group LP needs to get zoning variances to go through with the plan. Variances also are being sought for some of the current uses on the property that don’t conform to city code. The zoning variance application is for a maximum of 21 studio-living space units, but there might not be that many, partner Pete Kelly said last week.
Members of the Frankford Civic Association backed the Globe partners’ plan during their July 5 meeting. Globe’s partners go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1515 Arch St., 18th floor.
Globe’s one free-standing and 11 interconnected structures already are home to artists, florists, boat makers, a chocolate maker, a baker, a framer and an antiques importer, according to Kelly and Charlie Abdo, who are also among the development company’s eight partners.
Tracy O’Drain, the Frankford Community Development Corporation’s managing director, and Michelle Feldman, the CDC’s commercial corridor manager, recommended Globe to chocolatier Tegan Hagy and Cupcake Wars-winning baker Lily Fischer. They, in turn, told other professionals about the complex, Abdo said during an interview at the property on July 11.
Fischer and Hagy are the types of business people Abdo and Kelly want for Globe. Fischer was baking her cupcakes in her South Philly home and Hagy was renting spaces in restaurant kitchens. Both were looking for more room for their businesses.
“An inordinate amount of our tenants are making the transition from home-based businesses to their first real spaces,” Abdo said. He sees Globe’s ideal tenants as people in creative industries, and he believes they will bring jobs to Frankford.
Besides, Globe’s “a fascinating building,” said Feldman. “You walk in and you just feel something,” she said.
You see plenty, too.
There are remnants of Globe’s past left behind by the old owners just about everywhere — a two-story old boiler, industry-size scales and small spools of yarn. And you can see those artifacts by walking in the front door on the 4500 block of Worth St.
Some of the stuff is in such perfect shape, Abdo said, it could go to the Smithsonian. As it is, he said, many objects that once were at the dye works have been given to the Frankford Historical Society.
Globe’s buildings have many big rooms with high ceilings and large windows that let in plenty of light. Furniture retailer Ikea took advantage of that natural light and the large amount of available open space last week, erecting sets for a photo shoot of a advertising campaign on the fourth floor of one of the buildings.
In May, two movie sets were built at Globe for the film Dead Man Down. Sets for a theater production at Longwood Gardens in Chester County also were constructed at Globe recently, Kelly said.
Some of Globe’s partners have interests in other old industrial buildings in Frankford, Kelly said. Looking out a fourth-floor window last week, he pointed to an Orchard Street property and one on Tackawanna Street that are owned by some of the same people who invested in Globe.
He said he and Abdo joined the group for the Globe purchase in late 2007.
“Then, the real-estate market fell out from under us,” he said. “It was a little scary for the first few years.”
The complex has some selling points that have been attracting tenants.
Other than what Abdo calls Globe’s “industrial charm,” the complex has a pretty good location. It’s in a fairly quiet neighborhood with no crime problems, the partners said. Part of it fronts onto Torresdale Avenue. Globe’s close to I-95, and, therefore, Center City. It’s near Frankford Avenue and Kensington Avenue as well as many bus routes and the El. Globe has a parking lot at Kinsey and Worth streets.
Rents now pay the current mortgage, taxes and bills. Alliance Bank is financing the building improvements, Abdo and Kelly said, adding that the partners have chipped in a lot of their own money, too.
“We took something that was a drain on the city,” Kelly said. “Now, it’s occupied and generating taxes.”
The old Globe Dye Works
Address: 4520-40 Worth St.
Size: Globe’s dozen buildings take up more than 73,000 square feet.
Owners: Matt and Ian Pappajohn (Pappajohn Woodworking), Brendan Kilroy (Erector Sets), Mike and Rich Pantalone (ATB Electric), Mark Gallini (GHI Design), Charlie Abdo and Pete Kelly, who are the partners in Globe Development Group LP
Purchased: Dec. 10, 2007, for $675,000
Zoned: G2, Heavy Industrial. Zoning variances are being sought to allow a mix of residences and other uses.
City taxes: $24,145.92.
History: Globe Dye Works had been dying yarn in Frankford since the middle of the 19th century. According to the property’s current owners, the company ceased operations in 2005. Although Globe Development’s partners have been transforming the buildings into artists’ studios, kitchens and offices, many elements of the complex’s industrial past remain on the premises. A two-story boiler, numerous big scales, old signs and many, many spools of old dyed yarn can be spotted during a walk-through.
Uses: Parts of the building recently were utilized in the production of the movie Dead Man Down, and earlier this month, furniture retailer Ikea built a set for an advertising brochure.
Tenants include: An antiques importer, boat builders, a cider maker, a chocolatier, a cupcake baker, a public relations firm, florists, a HVAC contractor, a picture framer, a guacamole and salsa maker, and more than a dozen artists