Today Thompson’s Point is a motley collection of empty warehouses and even emptier warehouses, but plans for a $105 million overhaul will soon transform the lots abutting the Fore River into a gleaming new mixed-use development.
It will also have the unintended consequence of decreasing Portland’s number of dedicated music rehearsal spaces in town, down from 25 down to 10.
After half-a-dozen aborted attempts at finding a new home, Grime Studios owner Justin Curtsinger says things look good for a new, much larger space on Presumpscot Street, but it all hinges on a rapidly approaching fundraising deadline.
“The time is now. If we don’t raise at least $70,000 by the twenty-first of this month, we’re going to have to pull the plug on the Presumpscot Street site,” says Curtsinger.
The new space is more than twice the size of the Thompson’s Point building and has the capacity for as many as 25 rehearsal studios. Under Curtsinger’s direction, Grime has long boasted vacancy rates of less than 10 percent and currently has a waiting list of new tenants.
“I’m not concerned about filling these rooms, but we could always just tap into the visual art community. I would be psyched to have it be more mixed use,” Curtsinger says.
So far Curtsinger has managed to raise over $12,000 from private contributions and $3,000 through an online Indiegogo campaign. He’s very confident that a $35,000 loan currently in the works will go through, leaving him with some $20,000 to raise over the next week. And that’s just what he needs to sign a 10-year lease on the new space.
“The whole project in total will cost about $150,000. I’ve already raised $50,000 and I think I could open by January 1 with another $50,000.,” he says. The last third of the $150,000 would hopefully come along once the space is already operating, according to Curtsinger.
“All of this money is strictly for the buildout; just to be able to open the doors,” he says.
That buildout to the Presumpscot Street space includes the installation of a sprinkler system, bathrooms, electrical work, and sound containment and is estimated at a cost of $90,000.
As of Tuesday Grime Studios has attained 501(c)3 status, so now all future donations are now tax-deductible through fiscal sponsor Creative Space, a nonprofit aimed at helping address space needs for those within the creative economy. Curtsinger hopes this change in status will help Grime to drum up the funds it needs before the deal falls through on the new space, in which he’s already invested $10,000.
With more than 200 bands in greater Portland alone, Creative Space director Tom Blackburn says one cannot underestimate their economic and social impact. Blackburn also acts as project manager for the new Grime space, and says that creative types are often the first to take to distressed areas of a city, which gets the ball rolling on further gentrification.
“Creative workspaces are the backbone of Portland’s creative economy,” says Blackburn.
Curtsinger and Blackburn first met in 2012 when doing an inventory of artists’ studios and rehearsal spaces in the city for Creative Portland. A seasoned nonprofit manager, Blackburn is Grime’s representative at the municipal level, tackling permitting and other issues that arise around a project that is guaranteed to get noisy.