The project to turn the former BrevardLumber Co. site into a major local art hub will take another step forward soon with the opening of a multi-cultural event location.
A 10,000-square-foot metal building on King Street and an adjacent covered courtyard will be converted into The Lumberyard, “a multi-purpose facility that will have a range of activities for all ages that will include music, story telling, film and dance classes,” according to Jeff Perlman, one of four principals leading the project.
Perlman helped start a similar undertaking, The Arts Garage, in Delray Beach, Fla.
“We’d like to transfer some of the success that has happened here in Delray Beach and bring it to Brevard,” Perlman said. “We are very impressed withBrevard. It’s a really cool town, and the people have been really wonderful. We like that it’s a community that’s kind of grown up around the arts and culture and music and craft beer.”
To get the Lumberyard ready for a June 1 opening, bathrooms, a portable stage, a classroom, and an “inside/outside” bar will be added. The outside courtyard will have couches, a large movie screen and other features.
“For us it will be a pretty substantial investment, but we believe in Brevard, the town and its future,” said Perlman, who is a former mayor of Delray Beach. “We’ve been very impressed with the vision we’ve seen (in Brevard).
“It reminds me of my hometown in Delray when we began to make the (economic) turn, and we did it around the arts and culture and it becomes a destination as a result.”
The Lumberyard was chosen as a name, Perlman said, to reflect the history and heritage of the area.
Unlike The Arts Garage, The Lumberyard will be a for-profit venture.
Despite the relative small size of Brevard, Perlman believes there will be a number of opportunities for The Lumberyard to be profitable and attract people from outside the city.
As well as being available for education classes and fundraisers, the venue could be used for weddings, birthday parties and other similar events, Perlman said. The venue will also sell craft beers, while food vendors will be brought in, and plans are to hold festivals during the opening and closing of the season.
Theatre will be another component.
“We are hoping to do something that is unique enough and special enough and connected to the community so that we can draw from all of Transylvania County, Highlands and Cashiers,” Perlman said. “We also want to listen to the community.”
Sam Owen, a metal sculptor who moved two years ago with his family from Asheville to Brevard, is one of the other principals and will manage The Lumberyard. The Lumberyard will be permitted to hold roughly 300 people, and the goal will be to have music Thursday through Saturday.
As well as local musicians, The Lumberyard will have regional and national acts, Owen said.
The musical emphasis will be bluegrass, blues and jazz. The Lumberyard wants to be sensitive to the neighborhood, so events will finish no later than 11 p.m.
“We don’t want to be a bar, but a place where people are coming for high-quality cultural and musical experiences,” Perlman said.
Owen believes The Lumberyard will be a success but it will occur in “stages,” he said.
The economy should pick up in the next few years, he suggested, and encourage more younger families to move here. Brevard, he said, could be what Asheville was 10 years ago.
The investors are also encouraged by the city of Brevard’s support and plans for the future.
The city has been developing a “small area plan” for the Railroad Avenue, which will include recommendations for investment in the area. One of the long-range plans for the area is the extension of the multi-use path along Railroad Avenue.
“(The city) has an open and accessible attitude and philosophy that will enable a town to succeed,” Perlman said.
Perlman said he’s visited Brevard a number of times.
“I think it’s a wonderful place,” he said. “We want to be part of the community longterm.”
The Lumberyard will also coordinate its activities with the Haen Gallery, the first permanent undertaking at the site and where Owen is the art curator.
Tammy Hopkins, the executive director of the Transylvania Community Arts Council, is excited to welcome another member to the growing local arts scene.
“The TC Arts Council is proud of all the artistic growth in Brevard and Transylvania County,” she said. “Over the last several years we have become known as a vibrant arts hub with visual arts and the music scene. We are excited to see this new addition to the creative force that is Brevard’s art and music scene.”