Artists, entrepreneurs tour available buildings, spaces
SPRUCE PINE – Nearly 50 artists and entrepreneurs attended a tour this past Friday of available buildings and spaces in downtown Spruce Pine.
There were 14 buildings and spaces for either sale or rent on the tour ranging from 600 to 8,000 square feet, $500 to $1,500 a month rent and for sale from $123,000 to $250,000. Spruce Pine Main Street Executive Director Libby Phillips led the tour and provided would-be renters and buyers with information about the properties and property owners, some of whom were on the tour as well.
“I am very pleased with how this whole thing went,” she said. “We had nearly 50 people show up and several of those have expressed interest in some of the properties.”
The idea for the tour began when local artist and Penland School of Crafts Manager of Community Collaboration Stacey Lane attended a meeting during which local potter Jon Ellenbogen talked about a building tour in a city in New York that proved relatively successful. Shortly thereafter Lane had a meeting to gauge interest in having a similar tour in Spruce Pine.
“A lot of people showed up to that meeting,” Lane said. “After that, I knew we had to do it and I thought it would be good to have all the interested artists and business folks look at available spaces at once instead of handing out phone numbers over and over. The ball has to start rolling somewhere and there’s a lot of potential in a lot of these buildings.”
Lane said another reason for the tour was connecting people who might be looking for similar types of studios or spaces.
“I was really pleased with the turnout,” Lane said. “It was wonderful to see so many people interested in exploring having studios, businesses and living spaces in Spruce Pine. There were a great variety of spaces, and it is pretty thrilling to think about the potential. It made me really proud of and excited for our town. I hope some good things come of this.”
Noted local glassblower Pablo Soto took the tour. He said he is looking for a place suitable for a studio with an education component.
“I am thinking about opening a retail studio and a place I can teach classes,” he said. “I don’t need a huge space, but it will have to be a substantial size. There are a few on this tour that are way too big and a few way too small, but there’s also a few I saw today that would be great for what I am wanting to do.”
Interior designer Stephanie Johnson said she has been thinking of opening a house staging business in Spruce Pine. She said she doesn’t need a lot of space, but needs a place centrally located downtown.
“Some of these I know I don’t even need to look at because they are so big,” she said. “But some are the right size and in the location I want.”
Mitchell County Economic Development Director Laura Verla took the tour. She said it was “encouraging” to see so many people excited about downtown Spruce Pine.
“Mitchell County has a wealth of artistic talent and bringing this creative and entrepreneurial spirit into downtown Spruce Pine is an exceptional plan,” Verla said. “Libby did a great job organizing the tour.”
Lane said she plans to conduct a survey of those who took the tour in an attempt to evaluate its success.
Call Spruce Pine Main Street at 828-765-3008 or Lane at 828-765-2359 ext. 1217 for more information or a list of available properties.