201 Studios Provides Makers and Artists with Space to Work and Grow
The Near Eastside is home to a wide variety of former industrial sites. As the economy has shifted throughout the past half-century, many industrial facilities have been abandoned or sold by their original owners, often times leading to destruction and decay. While these old sites and buildings pose a challenge to the redevelopment process of the Near Eastside, they are also valuable assets in the right hands. One example of how reuse of old industrial buildings can help bring value to the community can be found at 201 Studios, located at 201 South Rural Street. 201 Studios provides space for makers and artists to create, showcase, and sell their work. The building at 201 South Rural Street, originally built in 1918, has seen multiple tenants over its 100 year history. The building was originally constructed for Service Products Corporation which operated in the building until 1986. In 1987, they sold the building to York Heating and Cooling, which operated there until 2012, at which time the building was donated to Shepherd Community Center. They owned the building and used it to host programming for a few years before selling it to Farm 360, an indoor farming operation focused on creating sustainable food solutions in urban neighborhoods, to be used for their operations. Then, in April 2018, the building was sold to RJ Pollak II, President of Pollak Investments LLC. Pollak then began working to turn the building into the studio space he envisioned. Turning any old industrial building into a fresh and vibrant space takes a lot of hard work. 201 Studios is a perfect example of how that work can pay off and add value to the community.
Pictured Above: Southwest corner of 201 Studios
Having begun his real estate career at the Stutz Building in downtown Indianapolis, Pollak was familiar with the conceptualization and operation of a building full of various studio and working spaces. However, while the Stutz Building has historically been associated with traditional artists, such as painters and sculptors, Pollak said, during an August 2019 interview, that 201 Studios has taken on its own identity: “This place has really taken its stride with makers.” There are currently twenty-four active tenants in the building, many of whom are makers. Each tenant occupies their own studio, of which there are multiple sizes. In addition to the studios, there is a 22,000 square foot warehouse that is currently used both for working space by some of the tenants and as storage. The next step for expansion will be to turn the warehouse into studio spaces. Pollak envisions as many as fifteen to twenty more spaces being created in the warehouse, with work starting as soon as this winter. The studio spaces at 201 Studios, especially since they vary in size, give tenants a blank canvas on which they can design their ideal workspace. This aspect of the concept is particularly valuable when looking to attract many people with their own ideas and preferences into the same space. Another valuable feature to the building is the shared gallery space on the first floor. The gallery is set up so that tenants can feature their work in a more public space which lends itself well to being the centerpiece for events, such as First Fridays. 201 Studios recently hosted their own event, the End of Summer Bash. The purpose of these events is to allow artists to welcome friends and community members into their space to promote their work. Allowing artists to showcase their work and drive sales is an important piece of promoting the growth and development of their businesses. The success of 201 Studios and other spaces like it is an important part of the realization of the Work IndyEast and Buy IndyEast goals. Arts-based community development is a priority of the IndyEast Promise Zone and is key to the development of the Near Eastside as a hub for business incubation, growth, and activity.
Pictured Above: Main entryway into 201 Studios and gallery
The future for 201 Studios is promising. The creation of more studio spaces will allow for the expansion of an already promising endeavor, as more local makers and artists can find space to work. However, simply having people in the studios isn’t the key to making the space work. As owner RJ Pollak II noted, the culture within the building and among the artists is equally important: “My hope and my desire would be to have a very vibrant and eclectic building full of like-minded people that want to share in the excitement of art and share in helping each other be creative…I think where there’s life and excitement and vibrancy, everything else will kind of fall into place.” The continuing growth of 201 Studios and promotion of this collaborative, supportive, and creative culture is an outstanding example of how to promote arts as a key piece of community development and industrial reuse, while also contributing to the commercial growth of the Near Eastside and Twin Aire neighborhoods.
Pictured Above: Empty studio space looking out into neighborhood