What’s the difference between neighborhoods with a high rental turnover and vacancy, and a neighborhood that’s in demand, where people choose to stay year after year (even if they don’t own)?

I lived in the same neighborhood of Philadelphia for much of the last decade. It’s a nice place to live, it’s convenient and feels safe. But it’s average, not great. The neighborhood has already become what it is; most residents and commercial neighbors seem happy with things the way they are.

I lived in one of 4 units in a small apartment building for nearly 5 years. Not for lack of trying, I barely knew any of the other tenants, most of whom were there for a year or two at most. I realized that the “niceness” attracted people who largely kept to themselves, and but the “niceness” never drew them in enough to keep them.

Beyond the “niceness” lies a complacency that I believe keeps average neighborhoods average.

Just because people live near each other doesn’t mean they have anything in common. Just because people live near each other doesn’t mean they know their neighbors, let alone care enough to look out for each other.

That’s the difference between an average neighborhood, and a great one. A great neighborhood is built for people who want to be neighbors. A great neighborhood is made by the people in that neighborhood doing things together.

I’m the founder of a coworking space and community in Philadelphia called Indy Hall. Indy Hall is a membership community for people who often work in isolation: freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote employees. Some of us work in proximity to each other, sharing a 10,000 square foot workspace in Old City, but we also socialize and collaborate.

Our community has grown from just two dozen founding members in 2006 to more than 300 monthly members in January 2014. Our model for building community and placemaking has become a standard that’s followed by people on every continent except for Antarctica.

I wake up every morning excited to get to work. It’s not because I’m going to spend my day in a room full of people instead of working from my home office. It’s because I know those people, and because we care enough to look out for each other. That’s a warm, nurturing, exciting, dynamic, and inspiring place to spend your days.

Which is why I’m excited to be working with Chad Ludeman of Postgreen Homes to create an equally warm, nurturing, exciting, dynamic, and inspiring place to live.


Our catalyst project, dubbed K’House (which is pronounced like “Kaboom”) will serve as a spark for this kind of movement. Indy Hall’s growth accelerated dramatically once we had a physical location – and 6 years later, our membership continues to grow by 10% or more every month.

Meanwhile in Kensington, we’ve slowly been building connections to the existing residential and business community over the past couple of years.

K’House will become a physical connection to the community in addition to being our residence much like Indy Hall’s location did, and we expect to be able to quickly grow beyond our first home as momentum builds.

Chad’s experience building homes in this neighborhood (not to mention that he and his family are residents, too) has already proven to be another feather in our cap, making it even easier to connect and deepen our roots. No other developer that I’ve met has the kind of long-term mindset necessary for building homes AND building a real, authentic community.

The founding residents, who will join me in living in our new buildings, will work together with the neighborhood to build a strong foundation for that growth community and the K’House is a critical cornerstone in making that possible. We are all experienced community builders, who see moving into K’House together as an investment in ourselves as well as our neighborhood and our city.

Want to join us for dinner sometime? Say hello in the comments below!


-Alex Hillman

  • Dani B

    Hey, I’m from SF and moving to Philly next year for grad school. I have been really involved in awesome cohousing community spaces like the Embassy in SF and I would love to know more about K’house and have dinner sometime. I’ll be out in Philly in April and would love to stop by if possible to check it out. Keep up the amazing work, can’t wait to see how the east does it!

    • http://www.dangerouslyawesome.com alexknowshtml

      Hey Dani,

      I’ve heard a bit about Embassy through my friend Vanessa Gennarell, I’d love to hear more about your experience.

      When in April will you be here? Drop me an email, alex@indyhall.org with any details so we can get together :)


  • Zubair Hossain

    Hey are you all still looking for places?

  • Trina

    Hello! I am excited to have found this project! My boyfriend and I have been brainstorming a similar idea, moreso about restoring and strengthening community here in Kensington. I just moved here but he is from here.. and it is awesome to know that there are others out there with same goals. Can you send more info to me at oterotm at gmail dot com? I’m wondering how the development on the cohousing is going. Thanks so much!

  • Ron

    Are you still actively developing a cohousing community in Kensington?