The incubator space 1776 at Cherry Hill Mall had its grand opening Thursday, signaling how the mall is changing to provide amenities beyond shopping for clothes.
The 1776 workplace is on the second floor next to Urban Outfitters, and includes Founders' Market, a retail shop with products from local artisans and independent businesses. The space has more than 11,000 square feet for startups, small businesses, and other retail or ecommerce ideas, and can house 250 members, representing 100 to 150 companies.
People started working from the space on Dec. 17 during a soft-launch stage, and there are currently 10 company members, ranging from solo entrepreneurs to larger businesses, said 1776 chief strategy officer Penny Lee.
1776 offers multiple passes, such as ones for $30 per day, $199 a month, or $299 per month based on benefits, and private offices ranging from $999 to $1,999 a month, Lee wrote in an email. This is 1776′s first incubator inside a mall, allowing entrepreneurs to test their products with shoppers in real time.
“The real-world exposure to test their products that they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to is a huge benefit to partnering with PREIT on this new endeavor.,“ Jennifer Maher, CEO of 1776, said in a news release.
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns Cherry Hill and other malls, has been diversifying its tenant mix, replacing failing department stores. The company announced in August that Burlington, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Edge Fitness would open in the former Macy’s location at Plymouth Meeting Mall.
Joseph F. Coradino, CEO of PREIT, told investors on an October earnings call that the company had nearly 200,000 square feet of “unique and differentiated mall uses signed for future openings."
At the time of the July announcement of the mall’s partnership with 1776, Coradino said the venture “speaks to the possibilities that exist within a mall to sort of step outside the box.”
“Coworking and business incubation will become a regular part of our business going forward,” Coradino previously said.