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Sinrim Agit : Turning an abandoned building to a community centre


What if turning an abandoned senior citizen center building into a place for residents? Urban Hybrid, SMG’s pre social enterprise wonderfully turned an abandoned building in Shinrim-dong, Gwanak-gu into a wonderful place for local community.


Urban Hybrid_Sinrim Agit


Wouldn’t have been possible without networks
Connected with Gwanak-gu through a bridge
Sesnet: A bridge between Urban Hybrid and Gwanak-gu


Sinrim Agit is run by Urban Hybrid. Urban Hybrid participated in and completed the social entrepreneurship nurturing program organised by Social entrepreneur support network (Sesnet), and thanks to that experience, Urban Hybrid was given the opportunity to develop Sinrim Agit. Sestet learned that Urban Hybrid’s business model was to make use of an idle space or building in the city to reinvigorate the neighbourhood and told it to Gwanak-gu district office when Gwanak-gu district office was concerned about how to reinvigorate its local community. So Gwanak-gu decided to join forces with Urban Hybrid. Plus, there were an idle space in the district already. Urban Hybrid took advantage of Sesnet as a bridge to propose an idea that later would lead to the current Sinrim Agit and finally it succeeded in urging the district office to accept the proposal. In 2013 Urban Hybrid and Gwanak-gu district office signed an MOU where both parties agreed to redecorate idle spaces in Gwanak-gu to revitalise local community.”


Gwanak-gu office repaired the building abandoned for 4 years while Urban Hybrid decorated and operated it


Gwanak-gu district office and Urban Hybrid signed an MOU in 2013 and searched for a place to establish a Sinrim Agit. Urban Hybrid wanted to turn an idle space in the gu district office building and Gwanak-gu district office agreed to provide help in the process. According to the MOU, Gwanak-gu picked out some appropriate candidates and recommended them to Urban Hybrid. Then Urban Hybrid selected the Sinil Senior Citizen Center building out. The idea of Urban Hybrid was to use an idle space rather than a space currently in use by others, and the current location of Sinrim Agit was the best choice out of all which met the requirement with easy access from a subway station.

Sinrim Agit had been abandoned for 4 years since the old Sinil Senior Citizen Center moved out. It’s not hard to find that building since it is located right next to Sinrim Elementary School, which is sort of a landmark in the neighborhood, but you have to walk up along an winding alleyway to get there. That’s not a perfect location for a facility for senior citizens, and so the Sinil Senior Citizen Center moved to another building not far from its original location but sitting on a less uphill road. And since then, the building remained empty.

Once Urban Hybrid decided to redecorate the building, Gwanak-gu district office who owned the building conducted a maintenance work on the building. It repaired the basic facilities such as electricity, water supply, insulation, and heating systems as they had not been used for 4 years. Meanwhile, Urban Hybrid set up a plan on how to use the space. And then there was an interior finishing work, after which the team put furniture and appliances in and redecorated the space into its current look. As such, Gwanak-gu district office and Urban Hybrid co-invented on the project.


Gwanak-gu receives rental fee only;
Sinrim Agit is independently run by Urban Hybrid


Sinrim Agit is run by Urban Hybrid. Without the help of Gwanak-gu office, this space would not have been possible. However, Gwanak-gu office doesn’t involve in the operation of the space at all. It occasionally inquires about how the facility is being used.

The relationship between Urban Hybrid and Gwanak-gu is that of a contractor/owner. Therefore, expenses in running Sinrim Agit are paid by Urban Hybrid. Rental fee, electricity and water, rental fee for drinking water, and wage for a building manager are paid by Urban Hybrid. Meanwhile, generating profits by facilitating the space is also what Urban Hybrid should do. Sang-uk Lee, Director of Urban Hybrid, said that it earned profits to the level of around 70% of salary for a manager when he was talking about the status of the space in December 2015.

Gwanak-gu and Urban Hybrid renew their rental contract every year. When a public asset is rented out to a private entity, it usually pays a rental fee worth of around 5% of appraised value of the facility. However, Urban Hybrid pays only 1% as it has been approved by SMG as a preliminary social enterprise.


Organizational goal of Sinrim Agit is not maximizing profits
but reestablishing itself as a community space
With the support of low rental fee
On the foundation of SMG’s ordinance


There is a legal ground for Urban Hybrid’s advantage of renting Sinrim Agit at a lower fee. Even if its goal is not maximising profits but running it as a community space, it should not be able to rent a public asset in violation of the law. Gwanak-gu recognised that Urban Hybrid was a preliminary social enterprise designated by SMG and hence applied a relevant ordinance to the case.

Gwanak-gu applied SMG Ordinance on the Promotion of Social Enterprises and SMG Ordinance on Public Property and Commodity Management to Sinrim Agit’s case. The former allows social enterprises to benefit from reduced rental fee. The rate of 1% of the appraised value of the relevant property is stipulated in the Article 26 of the Ordinance on Public Property and Commodity Management.