Abandoned factories and warehouse were once the imagined palaces du jour for struggling Brooklyn artists. But two decades into the whole repurposed building boom, developers inserted insta-luxury into said commercial spaces, and priced most people out.
So what's the next studio space trend? Not the college dorm-inspired McKibbin lofts. (SO mid-'00s). Instead artsy hipster types are peeping an unmarked 6,500-square-foot warehouse with 16-foot ceilings in Bushwick (off the Montrose L stop) housing salvaged campers. "Private artist studio space," is how cofounder Hayden Cummings describes the six campers, currently part of The Nut Factory (formerly a nut roasting factory). "There's no affordable private space for artists to create art together, so now it's come to campers in warehouses."
So far Cummings and two business partners have quietly posted ads on Craigslist about their artist community/trailer park. "Imagine you get your own mini-building with windows on all sides!" boasts the ad.
Come Spring 2010, an anticipated 25-30 campers at roughly 250-square-feet each will relocate to the 20x220 foot backyard and form two rows. A boardwalk-like street will run down the middle.
The current rental price or "membership fee" starts at $590/month on a month-to-month basis. It's one person to a camper. They've received three security deposits. One artist already began moving into his space. (It's indoors in the warehouse at the moment.) Cummings also envisions repurposing boats, railroad cars, and even large shipping containers into studio spaces.
The indoor space is the shared amenity space where a darkroom, recording studio, performance stage, gym, storage screen printing room and workshops for ceramics, metal and woodworking will be accessible to all renters. "This is low-impact living to the core," says Cummings. "It's a very energy-efficient and functional space."
There is a vetting process. Only "folks who believe in the vision and are excited to contribute ideas, share knowledge, help organize, decorate and bring in others to make this something extraordinary." The space is non-smoking and pet-free (apart from Nut Factory's dog Murray, and cat Buddy). Some campers are already blessed with mezuzahs. Sheila's Decorating is donating fabric to reinspire camper interiors.
Cummings maintains everything is kosher. "We're not running propane, only oil-filled space heaters. For cooking, there are hot plates."
Also by Spring, the communal space will host concerts and art shows. But MTV should take note: "We're not doing a reality show here," says Cummings.
Check out the exclusive footage of "The Nut Factory" shot by CaNo Rojas.