Over the last few years, most people wandering into Bok, the former South Philly vocational school that the School District closed in 2013, have come in search of cold drinks paired with expansive skyline views.
Today a haven for entrepreneurs and craftsmen of all kinds, Bok is morphing into a new kind of destination. You’ll find tenants ranging from jewelry makers to tattoo artists to custom rug weavers and more, many welcoming you in with open doors. It’s home to roughly 130 businesses, including two year-round food and drink spots, and more than half of the tenants can be classified as “creatives” or “makers.”
Bok’s new identity did not come without controversy: The building was acquired by developer Scout Ltd. from the Philadelphia School Reform Commission in 2014, leading to protests that the company was a tone-deaf gentrifier, but conversations have cooled on the topic.
Nearly 80 percent of current tenants are residents of South Philly, which now embraces the building as a place that fuels creativity and collaboration.
“Everyone works together here,” says Megan Stover, a ceramicist who works on the first floor of Bok and also owner of a home just few blocks away. “The furniture maker crafts tables for the business next door, the letterpress artist illustrates earring cards for the jewelry maker, the photographer shoots portraits for the baker’s new website — everyone’s talents come together to create this incredible and rewarding environment.”