Plans for new art space in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Contractors are hard at work gutting the inside and cleaning up the outside of the former paper recycling plant at 503 E. Washington St.

"I'm doing a lot of clean-up work, a lot of demolition work," developer Andy Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman wants to turn the building into a place where local artists can create.

"People can do painting or sculpting or welding," Zimmerman said.

The 22,000-square-foot building had been sitting empty for the past six months.

"Some homeless people living inside the building, lots of overgrown areas," Zimmerman said.

But in a few months, the developer says it will have studio-sized work spaces for professional artists.

"There could be some artist exhibits on weekends," Zimmerman said.

It may also include some off-campus work spaces for students at nearby schools like North Carolina A&T State University.

"Give students a different experience than a classroom experience but yet still is part of school curriculum,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, who owns several buildings throughout Greensboro, says he wants this property to not only transform the building but the neighborhood.

"Help the neighborhood, clean it up, pick up litter, clean up gardens," he said.

"I think that artists will probably flock to that," local artist Jan Lukens said.

Lukens rents work space at Revolution Mill Studios.

"Most artists are doing what I used to do which is working out of a spare bedroom," Lukens said.

Lukens mainly paints horse and animal portraits and says finding affordable space for a struggling artist isn't easy.

"It was very tough,"' he said.

It’s a project Zimmerman says that will be about much more than just art.

"I think this property can really make a difference," he said.

Zimmerman hopes to open the makerspace by the end of the year.