Artists looking for affordable studio spaces have a new opportunity on the horizon. Spaces will be available at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg, through a partnership between Zero Empty Spaces and Simon Property Management — the developer who owns the mall.
Artists are invited to attend a preview open house on April 2, in the wing near Dillard’s. Spaces are offered for $2.50 per square foot, so a 100-square-foot space will go for $250 per month.
Zero Empty Spaces, based in Broward County, is an artist studio/vacancy management company that creates affordable artist studios in vacant spaces around the country. Zero Empty Spaces leases the space, pays for the utilities and insurance, then sublets it to multiple artists.
It was launched in 2019 by co-founders Evan Snow and Andrew Martineau, arts advocates who saw the need for affordable studio spaces in Fort Lauderdale.
Described as “local arts advocates, community builders, creative problem solvers and creative entrepreneurs,” Snow has a background in real estate, while Martineau’s is in shopping center and retail development. Among several projects to promote artists in Broward County, they created a social media movement, a podcast and the Fort Lauderdale Art Fair on Water, which put art in mansions for sale that were only accessible by boat.
That led to talks with residential real estate boards and commercial property developers about putting art in their spaces, but they didn’t want to pay for it.
After one of those meetings, Snow and Martineau were driving around, looking at all the empty storefronts in Broward County, which was already one of the least affordable housing counties in the country.
“We literally turned to ourselves, we said, ‘What if we can make this one of the most affordable places for artists to create in?’ ” said Snow.
They were always being asked about affordable studio spaces by artists, so they came up with the initiative after that meeting, to “activate vacant commercial real estate, initially retail spaces and to make affordable artists studios at a fixed flat rate,” Snow said.
They have spaces in Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Hallandale Beach, Lake Worth and Miami, and in Massachusetts.
Snow said they had their eye on St. Petersburg for a while because of how many artists live here. They secured the space at Tyrone Square Mall through Simon’s regional specialty leasing director, who they worked with on their space in Miami.
Artist’s leases are month-to-month, but Zero Empty Spaces has a six-month lease with the mall. In the event the space gets leased by a permanent tenant, another space in the mall will be available for the artists.
The benefit for the mall is to have activity in otherwise vacant storefronts. For artists, the goal is to create collaboration between them and give them visibility.
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“We try to provide support with our public relations or social media marketing resources,” said Snow. “We host the grand opening reception once the space gets up and running for them. We feel that it’s helped make artists studios more accessible ... When you put it in a public retail setting like a mall or lifestyle center, that obviously helps with the discovery and hopefully inevitably the support of local independent artists.”
For more information, visit zeroemptyspaces.com.
If you go
Zero Empty Spaces open house preview. Noon-1 p.m. April 2. Free. Tyrone Square Mall in the Dillard’s wing, 6901 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.