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Arts Centers Rising In Shockoe's Place

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Demmert and Kotchish plan to develop their 35,000-square-foot space into Art Works, a two-story studio complex with about 78 artist studios and a gallery. Altug plans to convert his 15,000-square-foot building into about 40 studios, a gallery and facilities for neighborhood art classes. He'll call his the Bainbridge Art Factory.

Demmert says the Westvaco building could be open as early as July. "It is ready to use; there is no build-out," she says. Studios will range from 8 feet by 9 feet to 20 feet by 22 feet, with many smaller studios available for about $100 per month.

In addition to the design of the building, Demmert says she and Kotchish were attracted to its location in Old Manchester, about one mile from downtown. "Most people would say I'm crazy if I said I was attracted to the area," she says. "But I think it has a lot of potential. The whole area has become so safe." She cites developer Tom Robinson's efforts to revitalize the Hull Street commercial strip, the development of new loft apartments on Hull Street, and the way people are beginning to renovate the area's long-vacant homes. "I have heard the area referred to as the new Shockoe Bottom," she says.

Demmert and Kotchish plan to hold an open house for artists within the next few weeks. "I have a big list of people who have been anxiously awaiting for us to find them a home," she says.

Rusty Davis, who founded Shockoe Bottom Arts Center with his mother Deanna S. Brizendine in 1994, says about 20 of his artists have so far signed leases on studios in his new Petersburg Regional Art Center, which is slated to open July 1.

The Shockoe Bottom Arts Center's final All Media show, the 99th for the center, opens June 13.

— Jessica Ronky Haddad

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