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PHILADELPHIA-The Hub, which owns the only privately held LEED Silver rated meeting and event facility in the US, is expanding its presence in here with a third site in the historic Chemical Heritage Foundation building on Chestnut Street. The new space, which will be owned by Chemical Heritage Foundation but managed by the Hub, is scheduled to open the first week of October.

The CHF site will consist of a 5,000-sf exhibit hall featuring the chemical industry’s contributions throughout history and a 14,000 sf meeting space. The space is being built to LEED specifications, although CHF does not plan to pursue LEED certification. Cost of retrofitting the space is estimated to be about $450 per sf.

The expansion is part of CHF’s plan to attract more visitors to the Foundation. “What they wanted was to get more people through the door and make the Foundation a hub of activity for businesses,” explains Hub COO and president Bill Decker. “That’s why they reached out to us. They saw what we deliver and they want us to bring businesses of all shapes and sizes into the facility to have their meetings, and if they learn something about the chemical industry in that afternoon, our mission is accomplished.”

The addition of the CHF site will increase space operated by the Hub by about 50%. The Hub currently operates meeting space in CityView, which was built in 1999, and Cira Centre, which opened in Feb. 2007. The Hub’s Cira Centre space was awarded the LEED Silver rating for commercial interiors in April 2007.

Although CityView is not LEED certified, the Hub is committed to outfitting and running its spaces in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible. “We recently eliminated all bottled water from our facilities and now use reverse-osmosis purified water instead, because the water bottles don’t degrade,” says Decker. Other green features CityView and Cira share include locally-produced furniture and rooms that are individually temperature controlled. In addition, both sites are 100%-powered by wind, a method the Hub is hoping to use at the new CHF site. Going forward, the company plans to complete all build-out at future sites to LEED standard.

Environmental stewardship is nothing new to Decker and his business partner, John New.”John and I have always been the guys that turned the lights off when people left the room,” says Decker. Despite that, he and New did not initially set out to form a company dedicated to green initiatives.

“We started the business because we saw there was an unmet need in the market for high-quality meeting space for rent,” says Decker. “Most of the solutions in the market then were hotels, which are more about the guest rooms than the meeting rooms. After we developed our business model, we realized that the hospitality industry is one of the most wasteful industries out there. John and I have always been environmentally conscious people, so we thought it was a great fit for us to take our personal beliefs and bring it to an industry that needs help. In three years, we’ve raised the bar in the region. We’ve got the total package: We have environmental correctness, incredible space and high-quality services.”

The Hub continues to grow internally as well as externally. Last month, the company took almost 1,000 extra sf at Cira and plans to take over the remainder of the mezzanine level–approximately 3,800 extra sf in the next two years. The company is also considering expanding beyond the Philadelphia area.

“Having proven our model, we feel that we can move beyond Philadelphia,” says Decker. “We’ve looked around but haven’t put together the right deal yet. It’s difficult, but there’s a trend out there and progressive landlords are realizing that they have an opportunity to add an incredible amenity to a building and create a profitable business. Landlords are seeing the writing on the wall; they realize that if they’re going to create a sustainable commercial development, they have to position it as a center of commercial activity so there are a lot of feet coming through the door.”

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