People who like to make things often share a common problem: They never have enough tools or a big enough workshop.
Kre8Now Makerspace, which has its grand opening 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at 903 Manchester Street, has a solution.
For $35 a month, members will have access to every tool in the 12,000-square-foot workshop they can demonstrate competency to safely use, from sewing machines and saws to 3-D printers and welding equipment.
"It's like a gym membership for your creativeness," said Doug Clarke, one of three partners in the business. "We want to have a creative community where people can learn new skills and get hands-on experience through collaboration."
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Kre8Now also offers individual work and storage space next to the shared shop at $1 per square foot. The business also has a shared lounge and a classroom.
"We're going to be teaching classes for both members and the general public in anything and everything that has to do with making," said Clarke, a welder, machinist and former project engineer.
The partners see the space as both a place for tinkerers to hang out and for people to start businesses. They have about 40 members so far, about one-fourth of their goal.
While the space is still coming together, there is a complete wood shop, a metal shop with welding and steel-cutting equipment, a shop for building and using 3-D printers, a costume-making shop, a shop for making drone aircraft, and a variety of tools for other uses.
Many of the tools so far belong to Clarke and his two partners, Rob Savard and Ben Van Den Broeck. They all ended up in this venture because, well, they needed more tools and workshop space.
"I had my own machine shop for the better part of two decades, but I was at the point where I was going to have to invest a small fortune to expand it," said Savard, who makes prototypes for others in addition to his personal projects.
"I also have a background in woodworking," he said. "So my wife is expecting some furniture out of this."
Savard thinks Kre8Now's success will depend a lot on fostering a creative community. "It's good to come in and see what other folks are doing and get inspired," he said.
Van Den Broeck said he was a visual effects artist for the Cartoon Network for seven years, where he learned to use 3-D printers for prototyping cartoon characters that might work as toys. He then started a 3-D printing business, making objects for various corporate clients. Now he makes 3-D printers for various uses.
The three partners began the business with 1,800 square feet in the Old Pepper Distillery complex, another piece of Manchester Street property owned by Distillery District developer Barry McNees.
As membership increased, they outgrew the space and rented their new space from McNees. It is a former wholesale food warehouse that also houses photographer Mary Rezny and The Grand Reserve, an events venue.
"I've spent a lot of money bringing this place up," Clarke said. "But it's a great location. I see a lot of potential in the Distillery District."
The Grand Reserve and Rezny have bought their space from McNees, who is now trying to sell the former 1860s bourbon warehouse next door that used to be Buster's nightclub.
McNees and his partners bought up a lot of vacant industrial property along Manchester Street nearly a decade ago, hoping to create a mixed-use entertainment district just west of Rupp Arena.
The turnaround has been slow, mostly because of the area's antiquated public infrastructure. But it has become more viable and popular in the past couple of years as businesses such as Barrel House Distillery and Ethereal Brewing opened.
"What's happening now is what I hoped would happen in the first couple of years," McNees said. "But at least it's happening."