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Steve Roettger (left) and Wes Garnett opened the CoIN Loft for “the passionate pioneers of tomorrow.” Photo by Tom NutterWorking Together

The CoIN Loft co-op breeds big ideas.

Entrepreneurs looking for a different kind of work environment will find it in the city’s new CoIN Loft.

From an old hair salon at 300 W. Ninth St., founders Wes Garnett and Steve Roettger have created a kind of inexpensive office co-op where tenants have free access to each other—as well as each other’s business networks and ideas—but without the office. They say CoIN (short for community innovation) will be the scene for the “passionate pioneers of tomorrow.”

“We wanted to start an ecosystem for entrepreneurship,” says Garnett. “CoIN offers innovators an open space to gather and bounce ideas off one another and thereby tap into resources that working alone out of the home just can’t provide.”

Since opening April with a capacity of 21 tenants, CoIN has gotten off to an impressive start, with a tenancy of 10 to 15 “imagineers” working on two floors. Facilities include a lounge, a conference room, and an open, brainstorming space filled with desks and the other basic furnishings.

Roettger read about the “futurecentric” concept in a magazine, then he and Garnett visited a version in Philly. Both thought Wilmington was perfect for the idea.

“We believed CoIN would ride the wave of creativity currently flowing through downtown Wilmington,” says Garnett. “Exchanging business cards is good, but being in a place where you can exchange ideas you had been working on alone is a lot more powerful. A social media expert and a graphic designer working out of CoIN were able to bid on a large contract recently. They weren’t successful the first time around, but they would not have even been able to bid working on their own.”

Rents range from $40 a month for three days to $300 a month for 24-seven access. For more, visit www.thecoinloft.com. —Reid Champagne 

Page 2: Pedaling Into Tomorrow | A new bicycle “boutique” gives commuters a home.

 

Bike BoutiquePedaling Into Tomorrow

A new bicycle “boutique” gives commuters a home.

Go ahead—pedal your bike to work. Wilmington is ready for you.

Following successful introductions in exotic locales such as Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Munich, the bike boutique concept has rolled into Delaware.

The Bike Boutique in the Nemours Building downtown provides storage for 120 bikes. Commuters can use showers and lockers at neighboring Plexus Fitness, then walk a short way to their workplaces.

“Commuters riding to work need a place to park their bikes and then shower and change, while leaving only a short walk to the office,” says Bike Boutique president Mac Weymouth. “We thought Wilmington was a great place to begin in the U.S. market. It provided an opportunity to make a bigger splash in a smaller pond.”

The Boutique offers sales on select models and bike fitting, along with training and coaching in a “clubhouse” atmosphere. It provides advice about routes, and it arranges dry cleaning services.

“We’ll even order breakfast for you while you shower,” Weymouth says.

Since its opening in June, the boutique has attracted about 30 regular bike commuters. “There’s a good size bike community here,” he says. With 20,000 workers commuting to Wilmington every day, “certainly we can find 100 or so to make this facility an initial success.”

Mike Leventry of the city’s planning commission and Delaware Bike Summit, a cycling advocacy group, believes the Bike Boutique represents a “big stride forward” for the biking community.

“We’ve already begun installing bike racks in conveniently located sections of town,” he says, “and more are on the way.” —Reid Champagne
 

Page 2: A Symbol of Hope | A new mural welcomes visitors to historic Little Italy.

 

This mural along Union Street welcomes folks entering Little Italy from the north.A Symbol of Hope

A new mural welcomes visitors to historic Little Italy.

When artist Maria Pepe approached Father Roberto Balducelli of St. Anthony of Padua with the idea for a new mural in Little Italy, the venerable pastor pulled a tome from his personal library.

“He told me the story of the Bridge of Sighs, where in the 1400s you crossed to enter a castle prison meant for those who spoke out against the government,” says Pepe. “At first I thought it too sad a subject for a mural designed to joyfully welcome visitors to Little Italy, but Father Robert explained it as a symbol of hope. ‘Those crossing the bridge would make a wish for freedom they believed might then come true.’”

You can make the same wish now, as you turn off Pennsylvania Avenue onto Union Street. On the north wall of the M Fierro Cheese company is a 30-by-70 foot painting of the bridge, with an image of Fierro’s renowned ricotta cheese container on the milk silo and a portrait of Father Roberto.

“We wanted to balance the welcome arch that marked the southern entrance to Little Italy with something equally welcoming from the northern boundary,” says Fierro’s Jess Meany, who spearheaded the $12,000 project, which was initiated by the Little Italy Neighborhood Association. “The northern wall of our building seemed a natural canvas.”

With landscaping by the Delaware Center for Horticulture, the mural presents an image of pastoral tranquility in a very urban landscape. It also caps off a 10-year makeover of this historic Wilmington neighborhood.

Pepe worked with fellow artist Louis Wilson on the four-month project.

“People have already told me they feel themselves drawn toward the realistic looking waterway,” says Pepe. “One told me she felt she could literally put her arm through the painting.” —Reid Champagne

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