Abandoned buildings will be transformed into eco-villages that offer coworking, commercial space, housing and urban farming

December 10, 2020

Proximity announced today a partnership with Pennsylvania-based real estate development group The Bridge to provide building technology for eco-village projects in seven U.S. cities. With an emphasis on sustainability and serving inner-city populations, the mixed-use developments include coworking and event space, commercial and retail offerings, housing units and large-scale vertical farms. Founded by Harrisburg native and former NFL player Garry Gilliam, The Bridge is an ambitious project to increase the availability of high-quality and affordable housing, help create more entrepreneurship opportunities in inner-city communities and provide better access to fresh produce in areas where healthy food selection is limited.

Rather than construct new sites from scratch, The Bridge will build and expand its collection of eco-villages by converting old warehouses, schools and malls into modern, sustainable community centers. The first site is underway with the renovation of an abandoned high school building in downtown Harrisburg. The completed project will feature solar panels, a rainwater collection system and a one-third acre farm estimated to produce enough food for tens of thousands of Harrisburg residents. The development also features 10,000 square feet of coworking space and flexible offices.

Proximity will enable building tenants and coworking space members with digital door access, Wi-Fi control, greeting and check-in management for building guests and the ability to reserve a range of workspaces from private offices and desks to conference rooms and event space.

“This is an incredible project that addresses a host of inequities and challenges,” says Josh Freed, CEO of Proximity. “I’m inspired by the vision and determination to support entrepreneurship in under-served communities and open the doors for more people to pursue this as a viable, achievable path. Proximity is honored to call the team at The Bridge our partners and friends and we’re thrilled to be part of what they’re building.”

Proximity has completed hundreds of software implementations for coworking spaces and recently expanded its platform to support larger coworking brands with multiple locations, flexible offices in the commercial real estate industry as well as corporate organizations implementing flexible office concepts. Entrepreneurs and remote workers can also find and reserve workspace at hundreds of Proximity Network locations.

“There are clear synergies between Proximity and The Bridge,” says Corey Dupree, chief operating officer of The Bridge. “We both focus on building ‘The Bridge’ that is needed for entrepreneurs to have equitable and secure access to workspaces to ensure collaborative thinking takes place within and outside of our physical spaces. Proximity is the clear industry leader in the development of a platform capable of activating flex and reservable assets across our projects.” 

The Bridge will provide business and entrepreneurial training to the Harrisburg community as well as networking events, educational seminars and pitch competitions for startups raising capital. The Harrisburg eco village broke ground Nov. 19 and is scheduled to open in 2022. Site selection and planning are also underway for locations in Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

The Bridge Sustainable Eco Village
Image courtesy of Murray Associates