7 years ago the building was derelict and empty, with no plumbing or electricity, and although its proximity to the city couldn’t be faulted, none of the bigger letting agents were interested in developing it. Today it’s a thriving creative hub, with a trendy coffee shop, an independent bookstore, an events venue and all the studios fully let with 70 tenants and an equal amount on the waiting list. For the last 3 years the developers have only been taking in creative tenants, so they have a coffee roastery, some designers, and lots and lots of artists, including big names like Faith47, Kathryn Smith and Andrew Gibson, and up and coming artists like Senyol and Love and Hate.
The Woodstock Industrial Centre is in some ways a typical of the improvements we have seen in Woodstock in the later years. But what many people don’t know is that the owners have been instrumental in the development of Woodstock, and admit that the rate of improvement has surprised even them.
Part owner and manager of the building, Elad Kirshenbaum, is also the chairman of the Woodstock improvement district, and so has a vested interest in the improvement of the area. After initially taking on mostly manufacturing tenants, they soon had enquiries from some pioneering artists and realized that creatives were the ideal tenants. They were quiet and clean (well paint stains versus oil and grease) and it was on trend with other developments in the area. So over a number of years they made the conversion to creative tenants, and have built up a like-minded community of creatives. Elad also has a noticeable interest in the artists and the creative events they play host to in the building such as A Word of Art, so it wasn’t purely a business decision. Says Elad: “The added value of the artists’ creativity to the building if by far greater than the price we get per square meter. You can not put a price on inspiration.”
The building itself has lots of beautiful natural light so its easy to see why it is popular with artists. The oldest part of the building dates from 1900 and the newer part from the 1960’s. Walking through the building it has a great industrial vibe and with the patina of old paint, it feels a bit like an art school. The landlords have also been very flexible and keen to keep their tenants happy, like allowing them to use the walls of the common areas as a canvas for their expression.
There is also an indoor skateboard ramp on the first floor for the exclusive use of tenants. Some tenants have even converted their studios into beautiful loft apartments/studios.
Elad subscribes the success of the venture to charging reasonable rates and allowing for flexibility and creative expression.
Sadly the building is going on auction on 28 June, and if it does sell there is no telling what might happen to the building in its current incarnation. Elad says that the project has proven itself, and if it does sell he will replicate it elsewhere. In Woodstock of course. Watch this space!