Setting up Aparaaditehas

Lemmit Kaplinski

So how am I going to do this? And what is this place? It has 5 different buildings from various stages but they are all part of this one factory, the Widget Factory. In fact there were tenants here before we started developing it into a cultural center. The main tenant is a sportswear company who occupied more then 3000 square meters, I believe.

Again financial difficulty is what gives a culture a chance. The whole development started when the sportswear company went into troubles and they stopped renting one wing in newest part of the building, which faces the main street. And the owner was forced to do something with that wing. And then renovating it, he came to the whole idea, that hey, but there are these four buildings, maybe I could do something with them as well.

So we are in an interesting position. We have still the same sportswear company and some other tenants from way back then, for years and years already. And they really do not fit into the creative center image at all. I mean the sportswear company it is a large-scale manufacturing, what they do. Not the tiny studios, where they design stuff. But we cannot kick them out because they are ones who are paying the rent right now and their contribution is what allows us to develop the other buildings right now.

So our plan is that we are going to start with one building, once it is open and running we are going to move to next one and so and so fort. And then finally when we get to the rooms that are occupied right now, when everything else is occupied, then we can start talking with these companies about possible relocating or setting up some different arrangement.

We do not have an exact floor plan yet. There are too many variables up in the air, too many options. Basic idea is that we differentiate between the non-profit spaces and for-profit spaces and there are various greats of both. And we try to achieve a healthy mixture, which makes sure that there is enough creative types running around, creating the buzz, creating events, bringing in visitors, giving the whole place that cultural respect. So they develop the brand literally. And based on the brand we have a number of spaces, which are basically only to get a the rent.

I do not know today what is going to be the final ratio. As I said, there are too many variables down to crisis of construction fluctuating to the fact that there are several options of who we can install in different buildings. But what we are working on right now is the fifth building, which will become and be the artist’s building. Meaning pretty much all the spaces in here, the same room is in the fifth building the artist’s building. All the spaces in here will be smaller or bigger studios and the price will be very competitive for artists. And we are not going to be raising this price. This is going to be a non-for-profit space. So if people come here, they can get assured that we are not going to try to add to the price over year to gentrify the place. We need some healthy movement of people. We are going to find some ways to achieve that but not by upping prices.

Then when we develop another building and from beginning we decide, that this is going to be the fancy offices that are going to have a specific price from the day one. Talking of the artist studios currently we are, I would say, in the beginning of construction. We are building the toilets literally. And then there is going to be electricity, changing the windows and heating and so forth.

We are going to sell that. We have the whole building, which is 1200 square meters completely booked. So today if you are interested in renting spaces here, you get on the waiting list. Definitely some people will not end up signing contract. But we are positively surprised by how much of the demand there was for finding environment like this and that. And I always had a feeling about this because of my explorations in the abandoned buildings and meeting people that are also into this kind of thing. I knew also that there is nothing like this available and the city is big enough to support at least one such centre. So here are the things finally coming together, the supply and demand.

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