Once filled by disco lights and loud music, a former Chapel Street nightclub turned art supply store now attracts a different crowd.
City Hall held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Artist & Craftsman Supply on Friday evening to commemorate the store’s recent opening at 821 Chapel St. Although storeowners cut the ribbon only three days ago, the store has been open for business since Sept. 19. At the ceremony, Mayor Toni Harp presented storeowners with a plaque to welcome them to the Ninth Square shopping district.
“We’ve had a long summer,” said Barbara Hawes, a manager at Artist & Craftsman Supply, adding that the store managers faced many construction issues while renovating the building.
The construction team faced its first challenge when the ceiling sprung a leak following heavy summer rainfall, said Artist & Craftsman Supply employee Lelia Crockett. After repairs were made, a second downpour caused further damages to the roof and flooded the building, leading to a one-month hiatus in construction, she said. A total of seven workers, including the contracting crew, continued construction after cleaning up from the flood.
Before opening as an art supply store last month, the Chapel Street property was occupied by a nightclub that was evicted two years ago due to failing business, said Christina Rossetti, Pike International director of operations and spokesperson for the landlord. The landlord hopes that the addition of a name-brand store will bring in more business than its previous inhabitants, she added.
Since construction began nearly five months ago, the building has undergone significant transformation under the guidance of architect Fernando Pastor.
While the structure of the building remains largely unchanged, the interior has been given new life with a patchwork of colors covering the ceiling, floor and walls, Pastor said. Stretching the length of the store are lines of shelves housing crafting supplies, sculpting materials and canvases.
“The goal is to be inspired as you shop,” said regional manager Cassie Brehmer. “There’s beauty in chaos.”
The design of the building follows suit with its counterparts, Brehmer said, adding that Artist & Craftsman Supply has 23 locations, each with a similar interior design.
Although New Haven is home to several other art supply stores, Brehmer said that she does not expect difficulty attracting business.
“We’re unique because we cater to everyone from kindergarten teachers to professional painters,” she said.
In the wake of the mayor’s recent pushes to develop retail in New Haven, the store has received support from many of the city’s organizations, Crockett said, adding that city alders and the police commissioner have all visited the store. Soon after the store opened, City Hall offered the store the ribbon cutting ceremony and new bike racks, she said.
More new shops will soon accompany the Ninth Square’s latest addition. A glass art gallery called Intelligent Glass Gallery is expected to open next door in November, said Nicole Wilson, the gallery’s co-owner. In addition, the landowners are looking to build four new luxury apartments above the art supply store, Rossetti said.
“I see them becoming a part of the fabric on the Ninth Square,” said Michael Piscitelli, deputy economic development administrator for the city. “They picked the right part of town.”
In 1985, Artist & Craftsman Supply opened the doors to its first retail location in Maine.