Up to 36 artists studios will be available this winter in downtown Chattanooga, thanks to a new lease agreement the executive director of the Chattanooga Market has signed on a four-story building across from the YMCA on Sixth Street, which is part of the former senior living St. Barnabas apartment complex.
Chris Thomas’ vision for the site is a mix of co-working spaces on the ground floor and private art studios on the top three floors.
Renovation to the building is said to start immediately, with the aim of having up to 36 move-in ready private studios available to rent by Thanksgiving, according to Thomas.
Thomas said he is prioritizing getting the top floors updated first to address a need he became aware of through working with hundreds of artists who sell their work on Sundays at the First Tennessee Pavilion at the Chattanooga Market.
“We have a lot of vendors that are working out of their garages or other places they are not too excited about,” Thomas said.
This four-story building on Sixth Street across from the downtown YMCA will be the future home to artists studios and shared workspaces for entrepreneurs.
The average studio size to be offered in the downtown facility is approximately 25 feet by 17 feet and will be priced at about $1 per square foot on a month-to-month basis, for an average of $400 per month, Thomas said. All utilities, Wi-Fi and access to a lounge on each floor are included in the rent.
Additional amenities will be defined by the community of tenants that end up filling the space. Thomas said ideas to be explored include a shared kiln for potters and a commercial kitchen for food entrepreneurs.
“We’ll let the community guide what the end result is,” he said. The plan is also to work with established support service organizations for local entrepreneurs and artists, like The Company Lab and the Association for Visual Arts, to fine-tune without duplicating offerings.
Ground floor co-working spaces offered in 2013
A “co-working” space that can accommodate up to 100 small, two- or three-person entities will be on the ground floor, although that area will not be ready until 2013, Thomas said. The concept is for an open and shared workspace for freelancers and independent contractors to use as a home office as needed.
“It’s a way to get people out of their spare bedrooms and the coffee shops,” he said.
Some cities offer what are called “jellies” as an alternative to a traditional office environment. Started in 2006 by roommates who happily worked from home but missed the opportunities for creative brainstorming and sharing resources, a jelly is a semi-weekly gathering of freelancing professionals in various locations defined by each group.
The shared workspace concept is not totally new to Chattanooga, with similar services also offered to help startups have a legitimate business address while they grow. At the Concierge Office Suites, just a few blocks away in the Republic Centre, periodic jellies are hosted, and clients can rent office space by the hour, half-day, full day or from month to month.
On Sixth Street, Thomas said rates for the co-work space will be $25 per day or $200 per month for access to shared space on a month-to-month or day-to-day basis, depending on individual needs.
According to Thomas, the new studios and workspaces can act as a bridge for some entrepreneurs as they work to grow into more permanent locations.
“It could be a total solution or a stepping stone. This facility is designed to make that gap smaller,” he said.
Anyone interested in learning more about the project and leasing information should check the Chattanooga WorkSpace website.