Artists work on a stop-motion animation in a work space at 1717 Troutman Street, an old manufacturing building that illegally housed about 220 people before getting shut down by city officials. — Photo by Diego Cupolo
Most of us were introduced to the 1717 Troutman warehouse when its 220 tenants, mostly artists, were kicked out in 2007 because they inhabited an illegally converted industrial building. Today, after two years and a long list of renovations, the building is once again filled with artists, but this time it’s strictly for work space.
“It was awful what happened when the city kicked everyone out and gave them only two hours to grab their stuff,” said David Steinberg, manager for Troutman Business Zone LLC, which currently owns the building. “Some of those people were my friends and I felt really bad, but we worked with the city and local politicians to reopen the space and make some use of it in positive ways that help the community.”
In May 2009, the building was reopened as a work space with 60 rentable units ideal for light manufacturing, workshops and artist studios. A large banner hangs outside 1717 Troutman advertising its available spaces, boasting their 14-foot ceilings and flexible leases, without any signs of the building’s troubled past.
At the time it was vacated, city inspectors told the New York Times, they “found various fire sprinkler, exit, electrical and plumbing violations, and determined that residential use was a violation of the property’s zoning for manufacturing.” Like similar occurrences in the neighborhood, it was most likely the zoning laws that cost tenants their homes, but Steinberg said the building’s current use as a work area will not cause any future problems.
“We complied with all the codes and ripped out all the illegal constructions and bedrooms like the city asked us to,” Steinberg said.
The building now houses a chandelier shop, wood shop, T-Shirt company, various screen printing projects and large range of creative ventures. Just last month, Andrew Graham and Cassie Raihl rented three studios for a week to host the much-hyped Quizotic art show. Graham said they got a discounted rate and was very happy with the experience.
“The first show went so well that we’re already talking about doing another one in the next month or so,” Graham said. “It’s a great place to have around for these kinds of events.”