Lindsey Scannapieco leads Scout, an urban design and development practice that focuses on the activation of underutilized space. Scout’s largest project to date is the redevelopment of Bok into an innovative space for makers, artisans and entrepreneurs. The project has been recently recognized with the Charter Award for Transformational Development by CNU (2021) and long listed in adaptive reuse by Dezeen (2022).
Lindsey has been recognized with the 40 Under 40 by the Philadelphia Business Journal (2023), Girls Inc Community Impact Award (2022), the Rising Star Award in Real Estate (2018) by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Outside of work, she is the co-President of the Friends of FDR Park and an active board member of Fleischer Arts Memorial and the Knight Foundation Advisory Council. Lindsey holds a B.S. from the University of Southern California and a MSc from the London School of Economics in City Design and Social Science.
Read the podcast transcript here
Eve Picker: [00:00:05] Hi there. Thanks for joining me on Rethink Real Estate. For Good. I’m Eve Picker and I’m on a mission to make real estate work for everyone. I love real estate. Real estate makes places good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or not. In this show, I’m interviewing the disruptors, those creative thinkers and doers that are shrugging off the status quo in order to build better for everyone.
Eve: [00:00:36] Lindsey Scannapieco is an urbanist and an artist in every sense of the word. While living and studying in the UK, Lindsey worked on projects such as activating an underutilized subterranean crossing alongside Westminster Council, supporting Tech Shop in their global expansion, and developing a community led design project that reconsiders traditional construction hoardings in South Kilburn. All of this led her to found Scout, an urban design and development practice that focuses on the activation of underutilized space. Not one to think little, Lindsey submitted a proposal to purchase a 340,000 square foot vocational school building from the city of Philadelphia. Much to her surprise, she won the bid. Eight years later, BOK, as it is called, is a thriving and creative mix of makers, small businesses, and nonprofits, and 100% full. The building is a testament to Lindsey’s staying power. You’ll want to listen in to learn more.
Eve: [00:02:03] Hi, Lindsey. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Lindsey Scannapieco: [00:02:07] Thank you so much for having me, Eve. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Eve: [00:02:10] Yeah, well, I had the pleasure of visiting BOK a few weeks ago. That was, that’s a monster project. I can’t wait to hear how you pulled it off. But first, I wanted you to tell me about your company Scout. When did it all begin and where did it all begin?
Lindsey: [00:02:28] Yeah. I’m so glad you were able to see BOK in person. It’s been a great project, but a little bit about how we got started. So, started Scout in 2011. We are an urban design and development practice, and in the early years we were really working on consulting projects, really about underutilized spaces, primarily for planning agencies in the UK. That’s where Scout was founded in 2011. We did our first kind of big public project that year, which was a pop-up cinema called Films on Fridges. And although a pop-up cinema might seem pretty different from large scale development, actually there was a lot of shared characteristics in both of those projects, which I think are kind of a common thread throughout our work, which is trying to reimagine histories of space and place. I think playfulness is a big piece of our practice and I think inviting people in to have an experience is another part that we think is a really strong tool in any project. And so, we started Scout with this idea of looking at underutilized space in different ways. And in the beginning that started off as cinemas, community engagement projects, public realm work and evolved into development many years onwards.
Lindsey: [00:03:58] And we got the name because when we were talking about it, we were thinking about this idea of both scouting for space, so actually being a scout in that way, but also kind of a Boy Scout or Girl Scout sash in that we were accumulating skills and we didn’t know where they would take us. And so, I remember after we did this pop-up cinema, we got calls from a bunch of people who said, oh, can you do a pop-up cinema here? And we said, actually we don’t want to become known as the pop-up cinema company. For us, the cinema was a tool to bring people to a space that they otherwise would not go to because people are willing to travel for experiences. And so, we kind of put that on our sash or on our badge and turns out that was kind of a skill set or an approach to space that came in handy when we were tackling much larger projects down the line. So, this kind of idea of a tool kit or different badges of different types of skills for how to reimagine vacant space.
Eve: [00:05:03] But let’s go back a little bit even further. So, what sort of training did you have that made you even want to think about scout? There’s surely a lot of story before that, right?
Lindsey: [00:05:17] So my background in undergraduate, I studied real estate finance with a minor in classics and art history. And at that time in my life, I thought I would go into art business because I really enjoyed the arts and that made sense to me, arts and business. I actually think that what I’m doing today is I get to work with way more artists than I ever would have had I kind of gone down that track further. And so I guess after I graduated, I became really interested in urban planning and development and then pursued a master’s in City design and social Science at the London School of Economics. And through that work focused my studio on an area adjacent to what was then the 2012 Olympic site called Hackney Wick. And from there started to work for the London Legacy Development Corporation, where I led interim uses, which was looking at kind of the opportunity of spaces before the long-term development plan comes to fruition, but is kind of a better alternative to just fencing or hoarding a site. And I think through that work was really the impetus to starting Scout and started Scout a little bit because of that role. I was encouraged to start my own company and to be able to kind of work for them as a consultant. And then through that we took on more clients and grew a team and grew projects and that was over a decade ago now, which feels pretty wild to say today.
Eve: [00:06:57] So how would you say your approach differs from a traditional real estate practice?
Lindsey: [00:07:03] I think one of the first things that we do is I think often times in development, people bring ideas for a project into a space. And so, they’re saying, I know what I want to do and I’m trying to force this building to do that thing. I think what we’re interested in is really looking at the infrastructure, the assets, the physicality of a building as it exists and finding value and usefulness in that and almost listening to the building, letting the building tell you what it should be and how it should be used. And I think, you know, we can be quite precious, I think, about development sometimes and sometimes actually there’s a real practical piece of what a good building can be or can provide, particularly in our cities. And so, we’re really interested in that. I say oftentimes I’m really interested in dirty work and that kind of means to say the work that doesn’t happen at kind of our clean desks. That unfortunately is often very fragile. It’s usually moved to, you know, the edges of our city. It’s at risk, it’s sometimes happening in buildings without proper heating or roof systems or it’s just, you know, warehouses we see, every single day, being converted into residential or kind of, quote, higher and better uses. And so, I think we’re really interested in the preservation of those spaces, and I think how we can allow spaces of experimentation and growth in cities, I think that’s really something that we’re very passionate about.
Eve: [00:08:49] Yeah. So, you moved out to Philly? That’s right. What was your first project there?
Lindsey: [00:08:55] So we moved Scout to Philly for BOK.
Eve: [00:08:58] Oh, okay. Okay, I didn’t realize that. So BOK came first and Philly came second.
Lindsey: [00:09:05] A bit, I’m from Philadelphia, so for me, it was a bit of a homecoming personally, but we had submitted to an RFP for this big old school. It’s a 340,000 square foot school. It occupies an entire city block. It’s nine stories high. It has a very commanding presence over its surrounding neighborhood. And so, we submitted a response to the RFP. And to be quite frank, we never thought that we would get it. I just thought we would learn something about what that process was like in the US. And we had been looking at buildings, but at the time in London we couldn’t afford a building in London, so it made sense to go to another place that I had familiarity. And to be honest, we were shocked when we found out that we were the highest bidder. I was also the youngest bidder, I was obviously the only female bidder and so said, uh oh, we’ve either done something really right or really, really, really wrong. And so we jumped in and built a team in Philadelphia to start to take on that project. We had a year about of due diligence before we actually closed on the property from the school district. And over that period of time, we realized that the building is not flexible. It was built as a bomb shelter. It was extremely resilient, and it has, you know, incredible floor cores and floor strengths. It was built as a vocational school. And so I think most people had said to the city, and I don’t know this, I’m just, you know, speculating that they said, I’ll give you a dollar because to convert the building into residential or something that was more market driven would have required a ton of money and they would have said there’s no way that they could tackle that.
Eve: [00:10:58] Yeah, I’ve been to the building. I’m not even sure it’s possible. It’s really, really tough. Very inflexible, as you said.
Lindsey: [00:11:07] And so we embrace that. And so, we said, you know, how do we take spaces that aren’t flexible and how do we actually allow them to stay that way, allow them to stay what they want to be? You know, that means that, you know, an old woodworking shop became a home to a woodworker, an old culinary arts classroom, became home to a catering company. And so, you know, it really was about looking at the infrastructure and matching that to people who could use the space.
Eve: [00:11:35] You saw the existing infrastructure as an asset rather than something that needed to be like swept away and replaced.
Lindsey: [00:11:43] That’s exactly right.
Eve: [00:11:45] Yeah. So, when you submitted your RFP, what did you tell the city you were going to do with it?
Lindsey: [00:11:50] We told the city our vision was exactly as it is being used today. We said that our goal was to create affordable workspaces and they were not just going to be for artists or nonprofits. It was a yes and, so art spaces, nonprofits, community services, small businesses, people who just need access to spaces to be able to work. We had a theory that South Philly, which is an extremely dense part of Philadelphia, is a neighborhood with a typology of kind of the 12- to 14-foot-wide row home so that, you know, people didn’t really have access to larger, wider open spaces. And so, you know, we had a theory that people would be seeking that space and seeking that space in proximity to where they live. And I think when we talk about local impact and community led development, I think the ability to walk to work has such an incredible impact not only on your mental and physical health, but also the health and wealth of your community and your neighborhood at all and attracts all different types of people to support the small businesses and operations that are happening in the building. So today we have over 260 businesses based out of BOK.
Eve: [00:13:14] A lot of businesses.
Lindsey: [00:13:15] And 72% of them are owned by somebody who lives in South Philadelphia. So very much locally driven.
Eve: [00:13:25] That’s amazing. How many residents in South Philadelphia like how big is the neighborhood?
Lindsey: [00:13:30] Oh, that’s a great question.
Eve: [00:13:33] It’s got to be big to draw that many people.
Lindsey: [00:13:36] Yeah, I’m just, hold on, I feel like I have this number somewhere, but I’ll have to look it up. I don’t have it off the top of my head.
Eve: [00:13:44] Nevertheless, it’s got to be a big neighborhood to have that many people wanting small business space. How long had the building been vacant?
Lindsey: [00:13:52] So the last graduating class at Bok was in 2013.
Eve: [00:13:58] Oh, not so long.
Lindsey: [00:14:00] So not so long. Although the top two floors of the building had been closed before we took it on. The building was a high or is a high rise, I should say, by its height. But the school district, in order to not comply with high rise building code, cut off the top two floors and said, see, it’s not a high rise so we don’t have to sprinkler the building. And so that was one of the big pieces of work that we undertook was the sprinkling of the entire building. But essentially it really wasn’t vacant for long. And crazily, the school district thought that out of all the schools that they put on the market, and they put over 30 schools onto the market in that year, that BOK would be the last to sell. So, they actually moved all of the stuff, all of the chairs, all the tables, everything from all the other schools to Bok. And people could essentially come and kind of find the furniture that they needed. And that was that was fine and good and when we went to actually go close on the property, obviously we wanted the building empty because there was rooms just filled with stuff up to the ceilings. Plus, it was practical stuff. And we all know that our schools need equipment, they need supplies, they need furniture. Unfortunately, approaching the end of the process of moving towards closing, they started to throw out things and we said, all right, that’s it we’ll keep the rest. So, if you go to BOK today, sometimes you’ll see, for example, children’s chairs and a lot of people will say, well, wait, wasn’t this a high school? And it’s because they thought that BOK would be the last building to sell, and I actually think it was one of the first.
Eve: [00:15:39] That’s interesting. So, when you tackle a project like this, 340,000ft², most people would feel overwhelmed. You had some really huge challenges like code compliance and financing. Where did you begin? What was your strategy and how full is it today, by the way? Is it 100% occupied?
Lindsey: [00:16:02] It is. Today, BOK is 100% leased. We have no available space in the building, Unfortunately, I know I’m supposed to say that’s a good thing, but I actually think it’s a bad thing because for so many years we’ve prided ourselves on being able to expand and grow with people as their business changes. And it’s actually been, it’s hard now when you actually are full. But I think we also feel very grateful to be at 100% occupancy. So how did we start this? I always kind of say, you know, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? But our first bite was a decision to open up a pop-up bar on the roof of the building. And I think kind of going back to the beginning of this conversation, that’s because that’s something that we had done before. And I think that people are willing to travel for food and drink in a way that we’re not willing to travel for other things. We talk about traveling for other things. I talk about going, you know, maybe to a neighborhood I don’t go to frequently for an art exhibit or a shop, but most of the time it actually takes a lot for me to actually get there. I can think about it. But to actually get there and food and drink and I don’t know if it’s because it’s a shared activity or because there’s actually kind of a sweet adventure at the end but we kind of really knew that that was a strong tool and had seen that in the past.
Lindsey: [00:17:33] And so we opened up a pop-up bar and the joke is that I invited a bank every single night for a drink until I closed on our big construction loan, which I did. And, you know, we were open for 22 nights that first year and we had over 30,000 visitors. And so.
Eve: [00:17:54] Oh, wow.
Lindsey: [00:17:55] You know, I think a lot of people were saying, who’s going to come? How’s this going to work? How are people going to find out about this building? How are you going to deal with the parking needs? Who wants to be in a big old school? And I think for a lot of people, whether that was neighbors, future tenants, partners, bankers, politicians, coming upstairs to a very full and vibrant bar allowed them to say, wow, there’s something here. And people are willing to come here to find it and be a part of this place. And so, I think actually that was helpful in convincing people that, A, we could pull things off and make things happen. And we did that within 30 days of closing on the building, mind you, because I really feel strongly that oftentimes in development we wait years, we talk about grand visions, we undertake the large scale, you know, development, construction, and then we have a ribbon cutting and we’ve actually never had a ribbon cutting for BOK and never will, obviously at this point.
Lindsey: [00:19:07] But the idea of kind of incremental growth, I really believe that slow is really healthy actually, when we’re talking about large scale projects in a city. I don’t think it’s natural, normal or good to just open up the doors and add 350,000ft² of activity to a neighborhood. It’s much better to have that be an iterative process where people get to know you, you build trust. You also learn what works and what doesn’t work. There were mistakes along the way, you know, where should the trash sit, for example? You know, we moved that around a few times before we got it to the right place where trash trucks could access it and it wouldn’t disturb neighbors. And so, you know, I really believe in kind of iterative and slow development, but I always kind of say the bar is the thing that started it all. And that really allowed us to gain the momentum and the confidence of our team, even our neighbors, all of our collaborators and partners in that something was possible here.
Eve: [00:20:15] So as you built this thing, what other major challenges did you face during the project? Because you built it slowly with 200 tenants. It’s a lot of space.
Lindsey: [00:20:28] So it’s funny because I think sometimes your greatest strength is also your biggest challenge. And so, I say, I really like the idea of slow development, of iterative development, of the idea of the building kind of taking and evolving over time. And it really has. It took seven years to essentially finish all the construction pieces. And I’d actually argue that there still are pieces of the building that we still want to tackle or want to go back to or kind of take further. But I say that, at the same time one of the biggest challenges is that that meant that we were doing construction while we were an occupied building. And so that was also a challenge. There’s no other way to say it. We installed the sprinkler system actually when we were probably at 40% occupancy, something like that. We had outlined a scope of work with the fire board where we would basically install major infrastructure every six months with a kind of timeline of completion. So new standpipes, for example, went into all stairwells, I think for the first year. And then the second year we sprinklered a part of the building and then the next part and the next part. And so, I feel very grateful for the creative minds in the fire board and the city who kind of allowed us to create a safe building together, knowing that that was a huge piece of infrastructure and a huge cost item. But also, it was just a real operational challenge in terms of we did that work overnight in occupied spaces. So, I think, you know, to every strength also sometimes has its drawbacks too.
Eve: [00:22:14] I mean, financing is something that you fill slowly, is got to be really difficult as well because you need revenue to pay the loans. And how on earth do you manage that?
Lindsey: [00:22:25] Yeah. So, a similar approach in that how do you eat an elephant that one bite at a time and that our first loan was actually really just based on an appraisal of the building. We had had a zoning change and so kind of was able to argue to the bank that, you know, it was now worth three times more than essentially it was purchased for and it was purchased very cheaply, I think that should be acknowledged. We purchased the building for 1.75 million, although as I said, we were the highest bidder by a lot apparently.
Eve: [00:23:00] You could say that was a huge liability when you purchased it.
Lindsey: [00:23:03] Oh, 100%. But I actually think that that kind of that low entry per square foot is actually really essential in terms of allowing you to take a more creative approach. And I think, you know, Jane Jacobs says this best when she says, you know, new ideas must use old buildings. And I think it’s really because, in that when you’re getting a building for cheaper, that’s kind of been considered less valuable, it actually has more opportunities for experimentation in it and less pressures on it. And so I actually think that’s a really important piece of the puzzle. But essentially, we first got our first piece of funding just based on the kind of increase in value from a zoning change. And then once we signed kind of our first couple of leases, we kind of showed them that this was working. We were able to increase that by, I don’t know, 2 million or something like that, and then we increased it again, then we increased it again, and then we brought in new market tax credits and historic tax credits. And I had to condo out the buildings that I could kind of apply different financing pieces to different pieces of the puzzle as they came online. And that’s how we got it done.
Eve: [00:24:18] A little bit at a time. So, what about the community in the neighborhood? What role have they played in this revitalization of this, it’s a huge building sitting in the middle of a very dense neighborhood, as you said. It’s very, very large.
Lindsey: [00:24:32] Yeah. So, one of the first things we did when we started the project is we did a community asset mapping and I would encourage everyone to do that before you start anything kind of on your on your own turf, which is to look around you and see what’s already working and what already exists. Because I really think, although, you know there are certain characteristics of our neighborhood that we wanted to speak to, we started off by saying, how can we help the existing agencies, communities, organizations and people that are already are, you know, symbols of strength or kind of have agency or have organizing efforts within the neighborhood? And I think one of the best examples of that is a group called SEAMAC, which is the Southeast Asian Mutual Aid Coalition. And we invited them in to use this space for their elder’s breakfast on Tuesday morning. And so, they did that for 3 or 4 years. And through that partnership, which was pretty loose, you know, we were just giving them free space to be able to have their elders breakfast, they were able to work with Jefferson Hospital System to bring in a health clinic called the Wyss Wellness Center, which is a primary care health clinic. So, anybody can go and see a doctor there for primary care, but they’re specifically trained in the immigrant and refugee needs of our neighborhood, both language and cultural sensitivities. And that has just been an incredible resource for our community. Not just South Philadelphia but think of Philadelphia at large. A lot of the refugees recently who have been kind of bused into the city, that’s actually their first port of call in Philadelphia. And so, it’s really become an incredible space and anchor for that community. But that took almost six years to make happen. And so, I do think it really is about building trust and understanding how you can enable and support the growth of organizations that are already A, doing the work and B, very trusted within the community itself.
Eve: [00:26:52] I’m just fascinated about who the tenants are. Tell us a little bit about the mix of people in the building. I was lucky enough to walk through it, so I some of it’s burned into my brain, but I think you need to describe it a little.
Lindsey: [00:27:06] Yeah. So, we have over 260 businesses based in the building today. And of those, 52% are women owned businesses, 25% are minority owned businesses. And think about 15% of the building is nonprofits. And so, what that means is that we have everything from a glassblower who’s also doing glass recycling, to a daycare, to a tattoo parlor, to architects, jewelry designers, fabric printers, a tufting workshop, photographers, graphic designers, an accredited art school that focuses on contemporary realist painting, so a lot of work on the nude form and portrait work. We have a bakery called Machine Shop Bakery, which was just nominated for a James Beard Award in the pastry category. We’ve got a restaurant, Irwin’s, which has been rated one of the top ten best new restaurants in America. We’ve got a fabric recycling center, we have Girls Inc, which is a national nonprofit supporting young women, we have ballet classes, we’ve got a catering company, we have ceramic makers. It’s all types of people doing all types of things. And I think that’s actually really, really important, is that it’s not just a building for one type of person or one type of use. It’s a building for a lot of different uses to happen side by side.
Lindsey: [00:28:41] And I think one of the questions we always get asked is, oh, is there kind of a jeweler’s row or wing? Is there kind of the carpenter’s wing? Is there the band wing? And, you know, how much do you kind of curate this building and this space? And the answer is that we really don’t curate the building. We allow people to find spaces that suit their needs and their budgets. So, if somebody has a budget of $500, we’re trying to find a space that fits that budget and has the infrastructure that they need, that’s a sink or a lot of power. But the thing that we are really conscious about is sounds and smells. So, the people who make a lot of sounds and aren’t sensitive to sounds, they do go together. But beyond that, there’s not a ton of curation. On the first floor, obviously, we very much focused on things that are more public facing and want to interact with the public, because ultimately a lot of the building is just a workspace, not just but is a workspace. And so, people don’t necessarily want people knocking on their door saying, can I buy a, you know, a product that you’re making right there? They’re really there to focus.
Eve: [00:29:53] And how big is the team that manages all of this?
Lindsey: [00:29:56] Yeah. So, we’re about ten people, 10 to 12 people. And this, none of this would be possible without the team. I have an exceptional team. We have a facilities director who is just wonderful, is constantly, as an old building, it’s constantly moaning and groaning and he’s kind of there to oversee it with a great facilities crew. We’ve got a director of operations, we have an events team that does a variety of different events in the building we do around, we do weddings, we do community events, we do self-initiated events like Open Studios, for example, is one of them. Alumni Day, where we invite people to come back who are alumni of the school and so just have a great team. And I think that’s just so, so, so important for the project to be able to get to where it is today.
Eve: [00:30:53] But it’s not a traditional leasing and maintenance team, right?
Lindsey: [00:30:59] No, I mean, most of our leasing is done in house. I think over 50% of the people that we’ve leased to this is their first commercial lease. So, a part of our process has been trying to break down some of the jargon and lease terminology that really people aren’t familiar with outside of the leasing world, to help people to feel comfortable making that first big jump into a space. And in our work, we’re not working with a lot of large credit tenants. I think in the most more recent years we’ve had a few, but generally, and particularly the early years, we had no credit tenants. And so the idea of trying to lock somebody into a long term lease really doesn’t make sense for us or for them. And so really, it’s about allowing people to test and experiment and see what works and see what doesn’t work. And at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work for them, we’re lucky enough that there’s been enough demand and the scale of the space is kind of a very, I think, attractive size that that’s okay. It’s okay for us to have, you know, people move on and move out if it’s not the right fit. And we’re not locking people into leases that are longer than they can really take on.
Eve: [00:32:19] I think you and I see eye to eye on that. I’ve always been very disturbed at the real estate industry that rewards leasing agents based by commission, because of course, that means that they’re going to focus more time on larger leases. And so I have a couple of buildings where I took pretty much the same attitude. You know, shorter leases were fine. And if they could only renew for a short time, that was fine too. And what’s happened is I’ve had some tenants in some of my spaces for 15 years just renewing one year at a time or expanding and eventually moving on. But yeah, there’s just there’s something really broken with the industry that doesn’t allow for that to happen more freely. I think unfortunately, you know, real estate agents have to make money like they’ve got to live, right? But if they’re going to make $200 on a small lease, of course they’re going to spend more time on renting a big space where they can make $10,000, right?
Lindsey: [00:33:21] You know, I wonder if Covid has made anybody rethink that, because I always joke that in the beginning of Covid, I think I was my first bank call. They were like that building with all of those non-credit tenants. It’s, how are they going to fare through Covid? And the reality is that we fared better than any other building, a commercial building and my bank’s portfolio or any bank’s portfolio.
Eve: [00:33:47] Dare I say that’s because it’s 50% women owned businesses?
Lindsey: [00:33:51] I mean, I also think, you know, listen, it’s small scale. I think, you know, a third of our building is under 800ft². And so, you know, when somebody decides to close their business or move to Maine or move to Mexico or wherever it was that, you know, whatever they decided to do kind of in the pandemic.
Eve: [00:34:12] It’s a tiny percentage of the whole building, right?
Lindsey: [00:34:15] It’s a tiny percentage. And so we were able to kind of, you know, stay flexible, stay nimble. I think we also created a really incredible program around rent relief and deferment for our tenants, where we gave over $300,000 of rent relief and support. And that meant that we basically had, I think it was under 10% turnover during Covid. And so, you know, I hope that the industry as a whole looks at buildings like ours and says, oh, these buildings that we’ve always thought are more risky because they don’t have large anchor tenants, they don’t have the credit tenants, actually, there’s strength in the small and that there’s something very strong about our ability to be nimble. But at the same time, you know, I think it’ll always be interesting to see how that grows and goes. But I hope that maybe it’s made some of the industry just rethink a little bit about kind of who we think are dependable.
Eve: [00:35:13] You know, I’ve had a similar experience. I’ve got a building that has these, it’s much smaller, but it has these 13 little studios that range from 400 to 800ft². And I keep telling people I wish I had four buildings like that because it really never lost steam during Covid. And the people who are looking for space now want space like that. And I’m thinking about how to subdivide larger spaces to turn them into these little spaces because, yeah, I totally agree with you. If it’s a, it’s much easier for a landlord to manage than losing an entire floor plate of a building.
Lindsey: [00:35:51] Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot of work. I think like, you know, doing 260 leases versus doing, you know, ten or something would have, you know, but we think it’s also more interesting. It’s the type of people we want to work with and…
Eve: [00:36:03] Much more interesting.
Lindsey: [00:36:04] I would take it every day. So.
Eve: [00:36:06] So what other projects is Scout working on today, or is this just keeping you busy full time?
Lindsey: [00:36:13] No. So, we’re starting to work on other projects, which is very exciting. So, we actually are working on two projects up in Providence. One is called 50 Sims, which is a manufacturing building that will be workspace. We have some great workforce development tenants in there today. We’ve got a great brewery; we’ve got people doing CNC training and forklift training and we have a boat builder and an artist studio and a preservation society that’s teaching people how to repair historic windows. So, we’re really, really excited about that project and excited to be also working in a new city. It’s been wonderful. I think Providence has a lot of similarities to Philadelphia and we’ve really enjoyed being a part of that community.
Eve: [00:37:11] And how big is that project?
Lindsey: [00:37:13] It’s around 110,000ft².
Eve: [00:37:17] Oh just weeny. Weeny Scale.
Lindsey: [00:37:20] I think for better or for worse, once you do big buildings, everybody calls you about big buildings. So, I think we have to get comfortable in this space.
Eve: [00:37:29] Yes. Yes. One other question. Is collaboration important in your projects? I know that’s what you started out doing with Scout, but how is that morphed into BOK? Who do you collaborate with? What does that look like?
Lindsey: [00:37:44] So yeah, Eve, there’s a few different things that come to mind there. I think we collaborate a lot with artists on site specific pieces. So, if we are looking for furniture, for example, for a space, we’re typically commissioning and working with local artists, oftentimes people in the building. In the last couple years, we’ve also done two amazing projects that are pretty different than our kind of real estate development practice side. So, we’ve done two projects for the flower show in Philadelphia, which were both incredible collaborations with a whole host of different creatives and makers in the city. The first year we did a Risograph printing house where we printed aspirational posters, or inspirational I’m sorry, inspirational posters to give people hope in 2021, kind of following the year of 2020 that we had all been through. Three of those posters were in a language other than English to speak to the population of South Philadelphia who previously really didn’t have any materials in their languages at the flower show. And then last year, I guess in 2022, we did an installation called The Smelly Tunnel, which was essentially just a piece that you would walk through, and it would mist scents on you. And the idea of kind of flowers in terms of our mental health and kind of the ability to just step back and breathe. And so pretty different from our kind of management and development of a large building. But I actually think are great examples of things that A, make our team really excited and B, kind of that that collaboration. And so, I think we like working at a lot of different scales and find that kind of continuing to keep our hand in some of those small scale installation work that makes our kind of our long term development practice also stronger.
Eve: [00:39:43] And one more question for you, and that is I’m wondering how your time in the UK influenced your perspective on the built environment.
Lindsey: [00:39:53] I think there’s so many examples in Europe, I think, of how adaptive reuse is encouraged and I think just really done well. I think that’s certainly something I think that the value of both the creative community, but also of the cultural community, of cultural institutions, cultural organizations, has a different value in Europe and a different, I think, support system in terms of actually how those entities are funded compared to here in the US. So, certainly drew inspiration from many projects that I had seen and worked on there in Hackney Wick. There were some great examples, The White Building being one of them, and Amsterdam and DSM, I think was a, is an incredible example of kind of a building where the government really allowed people to experiment with what was possible and has now become kind of a center, a cultural center in Amsterdam. So, certainly it was a was a huge inspiration, is a huge inspiration and certainly informs my work. And I think, you know, this idea of kind of allowing things to stay a bit unpolished, unruly, but also surprising, I think is just certainly something that continues to inspire me, and I certainly travel to get to see projects like that, that continue to just be an inspiration for our work here.
Eve: [00:41:27] Yeah, it’s pretty amazing when you can say government did something so fantastic. We should be able to say that all the time, right?
Lindsey: [00:41:37] It would be nice.
Eve: [00:41:38] I have one more question for you. What keeps you up at night?
Lindsey: [00:41:41] Oh, so many things, to be honest.
Eve: [00:41:44] Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing.
Lindsey: [00:41:47] Oh, no, I wish I could say it was nothing. I mean I think to be honest, um, maybe I’ll start with where I think the kind of the opportunities are in that I think we are seeing cities shift. We are seeing obviously a lot of office space come online and I think there’s an opportunity there. And just thinking about what types of workspaces we need. I think, again, that kind of dirty workspace is something that doesn’t actually work well in our homes. And I think particularly for creative individuals, I think collaborative and creative environments are really key as sources of inspiration. And you know, people work better in those communities than perhaps they would in a basement or a, you know, a guest room or whatever it is that they might otherwise be working. So, I’m excited to see how that evolves. I think I am always just, I think, I don’t know if you feel this way, but it always feels still very fragile, and I always feel like I’m, it’s hard to enjoy the successes because I’m always fearful of the next hit.
Eve: [00:42:58] Well, that means you’re prepared, right? I mean, I think, yeah, it’s scary, but it’s probably healthy too. If you don’t have any fear, then you’re probably being too cavalier because there will always be a next hit, right? There will always be something else.
Lindsey: [00:43:16] There will. And particularly in old buildings, there’s always the next hit. I think that’s the reality. And so, I think that certainly always keeps me up. And, you know, I think just also as we’re in this next phase, I think of trying to figure out, you know, what’s next for Scout as we’ve kind of gone to the city of Providence and I think we’re looking elsewhere, I think that’s something that’s certainly keeps me, kind of, keeps my brain thinking at night about all the possibilities and projects that we might take on. So…
Eve: [00:43:50] Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and I can’t wait to see what you do next. You have to stay in touch. It’s very, very exciting work. I really appreciate it.
Lindsey: [00:44:00] Thank you. I would love to. I’d love to show you our next projects and the next ones after that. And I know many years ago when we were starting back, we came out to Pittsburgh to visit you.
Eve: [00:44:11] Yes, that was a long time ago. A long, long time ago, yeah,
Lindsey: [00:44:14] Long time ago. So, you’ve certainly been an inspiration and a part of this process.
Eve: [00:44:19] And maybe, sometime you want to even crowdfund one of your projects.
Lindsey: [00:44:23] I would love to explore.
Eve: [00:44:24] Can’t mention which one.
Lindsey: [00:44:30] That would be great.
Eve: [00:44:31] Thanks very much, Lindsey.
Lindsey: [00:44:32] Thank you, Eve.
Eve: [00:44:43] I hope you enjoyed today’s guest and our deep dive. You can find out more about this episode or others you might have missed on the show notes page at RethinkRealEstateforGood.co. There’s lots to listen to there. Please support this podcast and all the great work my guests do by sharing it with others, posting about it on social media, or leaving a rating and a review. To catch all the latest from me, you can follow me on LinkedIn. Even better, if you’re ready to dabble in some impact investing, head on over to smallchange.co where I spend most of my time. A special thanks to David Allardice for his excellent editing of this podcast and original music. And a big thanks to you for spending your time with me today. We’ll talk again soon. But for now, this is Eve Picker signing off to go make some change.
Image courtesy of Lindsey Scannapieco