A Scott’s Addition building known for its mural of Bernie Sanders is slated to attract a different kind of social movement.
The former Sea Dream Leather building at 3300 W. Broad St. has caught the attention of Highpoint Collective, a local group looking to keep artists and small businesses from being priced out of the neighborhood.
The team, made up of business owner David Morrison, taxidermist Robert Olsen and jeweler Claire Accardo, looks to turn the building into a dedicated workspace for creative industry professionals. They are readying the roughly 17,000-square-foot space for a $1.6 million overhaul, and hope to start upfitting the space in six to eight weeks, pending city permit approvals.
Residents of Scott’s Addition, the trio noticed rent prices rising in the neighborhood when Morrison and Olsen purchased the building in 2013 for $600,000.
“We knew we wanted it to be a place for artists and other creative types,” he said.
The group crafted plans for The Highpoint – a venue Morrison and his team want to become the neighborhood’s first collaborative space specifically for artists and professionals in creative industries.
“What we do defines us,” Morrison said. “It’s just making sure that we have the opportunity to stay in the neighborhood to do it, and we learned that we were not alone.”
The Highpoint will offer studio spaces ranging from 125 to 1,800 square feet, with monthly rents ranging from $1.10 per square foot for larger spaces to $1.80 per square foot for smaller units.
“We know the price point is low, given the area,” Morrison said. “We want this to be affordable for the tenants because we want them to be able to be self-sustaining to afford essential things like rent and healthcare.”
The group has secured tenants that include Jess Brooks Pottery and Photosynthesis Floral Design. Olsen, who owns taxidermy business Frozen in Flight, will establish a studio at The Highpoint, as will Accardo.
The Highpoint also will offer spaces where the group can charge hourly and daily rates for its classroom, event and music practice space.
Plans also call for a 1,800-square-foot event space, which Morrison said could be rented out for parties, conferences and weddings. A 630-square-foot commercial kitchen is slated for the facility as well.
There also will be a 700-square-foot classroom for businesses and artists to offer instructional programs, and a 100-square-foot room for music lessons.
Tenants will have access to services to assist small business owners, Morrison said, including financial planning, marketing, advertising and business consultation.
Richmond-based 510 Architects will oversee the architectural design of the space, while Dominion Construction Partners was selected as the project’s general contractor. Zack Belanger of Arcgeometer has been selected as consultant for the space’s acoustic design.
Chesapeake Bank is financing the project, which will not involve historic tax credits, Morrison said. The team is targeting a fall 2017 open.
The building, first constructed in 1939, includes two additions from the mid-1940s, Morrison said. The space has been used for several businesses over time, including a call center, law offices and milk warehouse.
The project is the latest sign of investment in the corridor that serves as Scott’s Addition’s southern border. Farther east, a former bingo hall building at 2900 W. Broad St. recently was purchased for $1.2 million. Next door, the former Joy Garden restaurant gave way last year to impending development.