3rd Ward was formed as a for-profit urban creative membership space offering comprehensive skill-share classes and dynamic workspaces for artists, entrepreneurs and other creative professionals in a lofty 30,000 square foot facility in East Williamsburg. The community generated collaborative sharing model provided resources, studio and office space as well as educational and critical back-end infrastructure services to working artists and aspiring creators.
The concept developed when the founders of 3rd Ward recognized individual artists and creative professionals often lack sufficient scale in their businesses to support the financial burdens of fulltime studio spaces or to purchase state-of-the-art equipment. 3rd Ward was established to solve this problem by providing shared access to industry-specific work spaces through a monthly membership-fee structure and a-la-carte classes. The robust educational offerings and vibrant social facility quickly fostered collaboration and expansion within the community through the overwhelming popularity of the continuing education initiatives and networking events.
Blesso Properties was the original seed investor and real estate partner of 3rd Ward, purchasing a 50% interest in the organization in 2010. During its three-year ownership, Blesso Properties was instrumental in 3rd Ward qualifying for its first debt facility, winning a $1.5 million grant from New York City to open a culinary incubator in Brooklyn and expanding beyond New York City into a new facility in Philadelphia. Blesso Properties exited the investment in 2012 by selling its interest to a who’s who syndicate of prominent venture-capital investors.
While 3rd Ward was cited around the country as THE model for the maker movement and collaborative co-working, the company unfortunately had a liquidity shortfall in 2013, due to its explosive growth and was forced out of business.