Approved Birdtown live/work studio and gallery won’t happen overnight

Transforming the building from a machine shop to an art studio and living space may take a couple of years.

Transforming the building from a machine shop to an art studio and living space may take a couple of years.

The easy part is over for Kim Schoel. The Lake Avenue artist received approval from the Planning Commission earlier this month to convert a commercial building in Birdtown into a live/work studio and art gallery.

Schoel must now acquire the property, and begin the hard work of transforming it into her creative headquarters. “This building would kind of be the ideal place for it,” she said.

Schoel estimated the studio will be added first, followed by the gallery, and then the living space. The pace will be dictated by her budget, and it could be a couple of years before she’s able to make it her primary residence.

A jewelry designer who sells most of her work at arts festivals, Schoel said she expects to hold events in conjunction with artists at the nearby Screw Factory, in addition to solo events once per quarter.

She’ll be the structure’s sole resident. “I like my space,” she said. “I’m a quiet, considerate person.” At some point down the road, she may hire an assistant.

Commission felt artist would be good fit for the neighborhood

In approving Schoel’s request to repurpose the building, the Commission applied the same section of the zoning code it used last year to permit a financial services business to open in a former church located in a residential neighborhood on Delaware Avenue.

Basically, the code states that the use of the building can be changed from one business to another as long as the new business doesn’t make any structural changes and is more “appropriate and compatible” with the neighborhood than the existing business — in this case a three-person commercial machine shop.

Mark Stockman, the chairman of the Commission, praised Schoel’s plan: “This will be a fantastic project.” The director of planning and development was equally as enthusiastic and hoped it would help the city attract similar developments in the future. “You’re going to help us by being the live guinea pig,” he said.

What direction will this building go in?

On Madison Avenue near Lark Street, the building is sandwiched between Madison's Tavern and Lakewood Home Furnishings.

On Madison Avenue near Lark Street, the building is sandwiched between Madison’s Tavern and Lakewood Home Furnishings.

Keep an eye on the brick building at 12405 Madison Avenue. It was just placed on the market and is priced to sell at $60,000. It has a small storefront space, with a one-unit apartment to the rear. It will be interesting to see who buys it.

Will the purchaser be a creative-type who turns it into something neat, or will it fall into the hands of an absentee landlord who neglects it?

With all of the emphasis City Hall says it will place on improving Madison Avenue in 2013 and 2014, the property could be a diamond in the rough for the right investor.

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