with four floors of mixed-use office space + an incredible roof deck for events (such as hgAthletics pop-up yoga on June 7th!), The Yard is a beautiful, welcome addition to Philadelphia's ever expanding small business community. Located just above our new 11th Street spot in Midtown Village, this Brooklyn-born concept offers its members the private, closed office spaces they need to build + manage their businesses while still providing an open, collaborative environment. We chatted with CEO + co-founder, Morris Levy, to learn about The Yard, what sets them apart from other coworking spaces + what their plans are as they aim to open more locations nationwide.
hg: when and where was The Yard’s first location opened. What served as the catalyst for its creation?
morris: we opened The Yard’s first location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn because we noticed creatives + entrepreneurs gravitating away from corporate offices and towards collaborative environments. We felt that there was a need for a place where people could focus on growing their business without having to worry about printing, kitchen amenities, office supplies + all of the other little things that a small business owner doesn’t have the time for. We developed The Yard to provide these business owners with a productive environment that would allow them to gain valuable connections, feedback on their work and long-lasting professional relationships through a built-in community of like-minded individuals.
As more people caught on to the benefits of a coworking environment, The Yard expanded to accommodate them. We now have eight locations in New York and, of course, our first Philly location - The Yard: Midtown Village! Later this year, we’ll be opening more locations across New York, as well as locations in Washington, D.C. and Boston.
hg: tell us a bit about the services, features and amenities you offer to your members and the steps you take to help these small businesses and entrepreneurs maintain and advance their operations.
morris: all of our spaces can accommodate individuals to teams as large as 65 or more. Our new location in Midtown Village has coworking, dedicated desks + private offices so that members can choose collaborative open spaces or private offices to suit their work style. Each floor has spacious conference rooms, fully stocked kitchens and lounges to encourage conversation within the community.
Plus, there’s a beautiful roof deck with 360 views of the Philly skyline. Members can take advantage of the nice weather and work on the roof, as well as enjoy events like outside yoga, happy hours + more.
We also work hard to scope out the best restaurants, bars, gyms + wellness centers in the area so that we can provide custom offerings to our community through our partnerships program. All members use The Yard app to learn about partnerships, RSVP to events, connect with other members and book conference rooms on the go through The BackYard.
hg: You recently opened in Philly, directly above our new 11th Street location (hi, neighbors!). How has the transition into the Philly market been for you? What are some features about the city which stand out or help distinguish Philadelphia from your other regions? Are there any special features that your Philadelphia spot has which may not be found at The Yard locations elsewhere?
morris: Philadelphia has always been an entrepreneurial city, and the small business community is growing tremendously. We felt drawn to the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Midtown Village, Center City and we knew this was a community that we wanted to be a part of. A lot of New Yorkers are moving to Philadelphia because of its great resources for growing a business paired with a low cost of living. Plus, many of our New York City members travel to Philly for business.
"There’s a very natural relationship to be had between the small businesses of New York and Philly that we want to help foster."
One highlight of The Yard: Midtown Village is the fully finished roof deck overlooking Midtown Village. While very different from our Lower East Side location in Manhattan, both spots have great rooftops that allow members a change of pace for doing their work and that foster community through rooftop events. Additionally, we’re very excited to be located in the historic Steele building with its beautiful, ornate columns accenting the offices, conference rooms + lounges throughout our space. The building also has large windows that bring in natural light to about 90% of our offices.
hg: how do you develop a relationship with the cities (and potential members in those cities) when you enter these new markets?
"We pride ourselves on being community first at a very hyperlocal level."
We support our vibrant community through close integration with its business district needs, local groups, organizations and helping to be involved in both the local + business community. We also love to support local artists by showcasing their works in our rotating art galleries. Each season, we invite the surrounding community to join us for art openings across our spaces.
hg: what aspects of the city and the community factor into where you choose to open?
morris: since we have eight locations across New York, one of which is in Herald Square just blocks away from Penn Station, we thought it only made sense to open a location nearby in the vibrant Midtown Village neighborhood of Philadelphia. Philly has a great entrepreneurial energy and we wanted to provide its innovative community members with resources and catalysts to help their businesses grow and to further their development as business leaders. Plus, just a train ride away from NYC, our current members now have a familiar place to work and hold meetings while connecting with the small businesses of Philadelphia.
hg: what do you feel sets The Yard apart from other co-working spaces in urban markets?
morris: one important factor that sets us apart is that our space is designed for the most productive, modern professional; our private offices have true walls, allowing for the privacy you need when establishing a business. We still have glass to allow for light, which lends itself to the collaborative energy of the space, but it’s not all glass. From feedback from our members, we know that this is a priority for them in regards to confidentiality and bringing in clients.
Another thing is, you won’t find any beer on tap in our spaces. All of The Yard’s events tie into our curated programming, either after hours or during lunch hours. We feel that it’s important to maintain a focused environment during the day and to provide the option to engage in networking events, wellness classes, educational classes and the like at a time that doesn’t interfere with their business but adds to their work-life balance and enhances their sense of community. Our members tend to appreciate these offerings most at the end of the day when they’re ready to wind down or to foster another part of their creativity + career advancement.
hg: do you host events at the space (or on the roof)? Are there any which are open to the public or do these remain “members only”?
morris: each month, each of our locations hosts a mix of events to benefit the small businesses in our spaces and grow our community. Our events include educational panels, networking happy hours, health and wellness workshops + art shows, to name a few! Our events are specifically tailored to benefit our community, but we often welcome them to bring friends. Other members of the Philly community can stay updated on upcoming events through The Yard’s blog.
We also love to be involved in community events + recently supported Action Wellness ’Dining Out For Life'. Plus, we were thrilled to be a host during the Innovation Crawl and a panel with CloudMine in our space for Philly Tech Week. We’re looking forward to many more great events over the summer with our various Philly partners, especially our wonderful neighbors at honeygrow!
to learn more about The Yard, follow them on Facebook, Twitter + Instagram and check out their blog! You can also shoot them a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to their bi-weekly newsletter!