A new nonprofit opened its doors in Ardmore on the Main Line. There, people can buy coffee, host classes and open mic nights, or hold networking events or meetings, but it’s not exclusively a café, entertainment venue or meeting space.

It’s all of these under one roof, and then some.

 Common Space, at 25 Rittenhouse Place right off the main Lancaster Avenue thoroughfare, is a new shared space that will host community programming like open mic nights, poetry events, art classes and game events, among others.

Common Space also shares space with local community organizations looking to host committee or board meetings. It will be open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

“We host a diverse collection of activities, many that are created and organized by community members in Ardmore,” said founding director Amy McCann.

McCann began her teaching career in the School District of Philadelphia. Now she is a learning specialist at Friends School Haverford, and her teaching experience and practice focuses on empathy training, building self-regulation strategies and mindfulness related to how a student learns and works to their best.

“The intent is to create a space that brings people together and sparks conversation,” McCann said. “Through programming that sparks creativity — and is hands on or engages the mind — people feel more comfortable and engage. The community comes together.”

The difference between Common Space and coworking spaces that are proliferating in Philadelphia, officials say, is that Common Space accomplishes the same objectives in a more intimate setting with a broader demographic, including economic background.

The $20 an hour — with a two-hour minimum — is flexible; officials say they will work with an organization who may not be able to meet that requirement.

Programming is donation based, meant to be inclusive.

“Common Space hopes to complement, not replicate, what else is happening in the community,” McCann said. “For example, we host art classes with the intent of bringing people together. Other art studios in the area provide art classes that work on technique and a specific expertise.”

Groups or committees from other organizations can rent the space for meetings for about $20 an hour. Common Space can accommodate up to 30 people in 800 square feet of space, with seating for 25. There is Wi-Fi, a projector and screen, and meeting supplies available.

Common Space officials are in the process of obtaining a food license to serve light snacks as well as coffee, tea and smoothies. The space is zoned for retail, not office use. “Community center didn’t fit into either,” they said, so coffee and pastries will be sold.

“We are mindful of connecting with other local farms and organizations that support our mission,” McCann said.

Common Spaces buys coffee from New Avenue Foundation, which supports employment for people with disabilities. Beans are for sale at Common Space to support the foundation’s mission.

“We are perfecting our baking techniques in our kitchen,” said McCann.

“Eventually, our budget will allow us to hire people looking for part-time flexible hours and who want to be a productive agent of change,” McCann said. “The space is run by volunteers — student interns, board members and other folks looking to be active in their community.”

A ribbon-cutting event is tentatively scheduled for April 27, and a public open house and grand opening event will be held April 29 during the Ardmore Antique and Vintage Market.

Ardmore’s Lancaster Avenue is often seen as the Main Street of the Main Line, and it’s been growing for the past few years, particularly on the food and beverage side.

Le Bec-Fin alumni recently expanded their bakery and café for a third time, and more restaurants have opened or are schedule to open.

Ardmore was not always a dining destination. Economics Research Associates in its 2006 retail strategy plan recommended to rebrand Ardmore, which straddles Delaware and Montgomery counties, in that type of destination.

The restaurant scene in downtown Ardmore was underserved in June 2005, according the report.

Although Common Space must sell coffee and food as a zoning rule, the offering may be beneficial in the long run, since food is a major driver in leisure travel, and more people in the space activates the area overall. There were similar attempts to create a community space in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia.

-Philadelphia Business Journal