Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties-adjacent location of the Brooklyn-based creative haven 3rd Ward shut down officially and without much warning on Friday, Oct. 11.
3rd Ward Philly opened its doors only six months ago at 1227 N. 4th St. 3rd Ward Philly’s building was a massive space that offered instruction in dozens of creative mediums. Students could pay to take one-off classes, like a weekly figure sketching class for $10, pay for a series of one particular class, or could join 3rd Ward as a full member.
According to a letter circulating online written by 3rd Ward founder Jason Goodman to 3rd Ward instructors, “With the costs of running our two locations in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, we are sadly no longer able to remain in business.”
Star’s emails to several 3rd Ward Philadelphia staff members were not returned. Some emails bounced back because the email addresses are no longer active. Phone calls to the building are answered by a generic voicemail message. Its website lists only firstname.lastname@example.org as a point of contact.
According to Free Williamsburg, in another email Goodman sent last week, 3rd Ward “…will not be able to refund any payments made for membership services that have not been fully utilized.”
The Brooklyn location of 3rd Ward opened in 2006. According to the website Technically Philly, 3rd Ward Philadelphia had cut 50 percent of its staff in July.
Both locations remained open with limited hours through Tuesday, only for staff and instructors to collect their belongings.
Free Williamsburg also pointed out that cofounders Goodman and Jeremy Lovitt have “a history of shady incompetence,”— their 3rd Ward outpost in New York was forced to shut down in 2010 for operating illegally.
On 3rd Ward Philly’s Facebook page, disgruntled visitors to the creative space voiced their disdain, with some users saying Goodman and Lovitt are “…criminals who have stolen money from teachers and aspiring artists,” with one user writing: ldquo;So 3rd Ward, when exactly do you plan on paying your instructors and refunding students for cancelled classes?”
The website Technically Brooklyn spoke with a former 3rd Ward Brooklyn teacher there, who said that employees there would go month without being paid.
Goodman has not spoken to many press outlets, only briefly commenting to The New York Times and The Village Voice.
According to the Voice: “Goodman doesn’t have a lot of answers about how 3rd Ward collapsed so quickly and completely. In September 3rd Ward launched a campaign to raise $1.5 million in investment on the website Fundrise. That campaign was called off last Wednesday.”
On Fundrise’s 3rd Ward campaign, regarding Philadelphia, it read: “The current operating losses and cash deficit are primarily due to three factors…2. The new location in Philadelphia is requiring more capital than expected to achieve profitability or reach cash flow break-even.”
The Fundrise campaign did raise $375,000 before it was suspended.
Goodman also told the Voice that 3rd Ward could still be saved by an “outpouring of interest” from potential investors — plus, former members have also started a campaign as well, save3rdward.com, with which Goodman said he’s not affiliated.
It’s not clear what will become of 3rd Ward’s Philadelphia space.
The Philadelphia 3rd Ward website, philly.3rdward.com, includes the same letter as the Brooklyn 3rd Ward website, which references New York, not Philadelphia, in its comments.
On 3rd Ward’s website, it reads: “We are tremendously saddened and apologetic to see the very people we opened this space to serve, and who made it so vibrant, scattered on such short notice…When we opened in 2006, our vision was to create a shared space for our community of artists and entrepreneurs to have a place to work, learn, network and thrive. We’re proud to have been able to do that for as long as we did.” ••