Philly’s William Way LGBT Community Center will undergo $2.5 million expansion

The facility will create office space and barrier-free facilities with the $2.5 million dollars in state grant money.

Kira Kinsman explains the transformation of the building. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Kira Kinsman explains the transformation of the building. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A cornerstone in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community will be enhanced through a new state grant.

William Way LGBT Community Center executive director Chris Bartlett said the influx of money will help the center move into a new era of service to the community.

“In October 2023. We plan to begin demolition of the back two thirds of the building, approximately behind the entrance to this building, to build a new office tower that will house our growing programs and provide plenty of space for long term leases and rentals for community groups and small businesses.”

Heshie Zinman and Mark Segal look at rendering of new William Way. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)
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Originally founded as the Gay Community Center of Philadelphia in 1974, over the years the William Way LGBT Community Center has been a place that is welcoming to those who need guidance.

Kira Kinsman is an architect who is co-chair of the facility’s board

“When I moved here six years ago, it was to give myself space where I could hopefully find my most authentic self,” Kinsman said. “One day early on, I came to the William Way Center, and I’m walking into this charming and well-worn lobby. I realized that maybe for the first time in my life, I truly had come home. I found my people.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the center helps those in need at a time when the assistance is truly necessary.

“For 25 years, the Way center has committed to the community in ways that I don’t think any other organization has in the history of Philadelphia,” he said. “It’s an institution that’s grown. It’s changed with the community that it serves. The people here have changed countless lives over 25 years by empowering LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians, by giving residents a place to gather in a community and work with one another in a safe place.”

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at the expansion announcement for Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The grant will help create an office tower in the rear portion of the building with many amenities, including:

  • A catering kitchen and cafe for job creation and training
  • Rentable meeting facilities
  • Flexible private and spacious coworking areas
  • A new dedicated art gallery
  • Barrier free meeting space for 300
  • A computer lounge suitable for hybrid programs.

Demolition is expected to begin next year, and the center is looking for over $2 million to match the state money in order to pay for the project.

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