A local couple is bringing a little more culture to downtown as they seek to expand their performance and arts studio and relocate to the city’s old YWCA building.
The city’s Planning Board has given its approval for the building to be used as an entertainment venue, massage studio and even a home for Michael McAllister and Hannah Hanlon, owners of SkyHeart Studio.
“We weren’t exactly looking to relocate, but we saw the ‘For Sale’ sign and took a look at the building and fell in love with it,” Hanlon said. “And it just happened to coincide with the fact that SkyHeart had begun to outgrow our space. So it came along at the right time.”
Deputy City Clerk Cindy Ostrander said the couple presented plans for the building to the Planning Board last month, and as recently as Tuesday.
The three-story building on the corner of Bleecker and Church streets is approximately 130 by 70 feet. And though the old YWCA has been sitting unused for about a year, the building is still fit for occupation, Ostrander said.
But it wasn’t just that the building offered a larger space, said McAllister and Hanlon.
“On a whim, we called the real estate agent and said, ‘Let’s look at it,’ ” said Hanlon, a longtime massage therapist. “And we weren’t in there for five minutes before we fell in love with it.”
SkyHeart Studio, currently located at 51 S. Main St., in a loft above Beacon Warehouse, offers just enough space for about 40 people to enjoy performances by local and regional musicians. So the extra space was a draw, since their 2-year-old performance studio was beginning to attract more artists and more of a following.
SkyHeart hosts mostly folk artists, but anyone’s invited to play. They’ve had local, national and international artists, said Hanlon, recalling a Scottish trio and a “wonderful mandolin group out of Boston and Maine.”
Hanlon also was using the South Main Street studio space to manufacture a recently launched line of bath and body products called EartHHeart.
“It would be nicer if we could have more people buying tickets, and also, there were some musicians we couldn’t afford to invite to play because their guarantee pay was too high,” Hanlon said. “So finding a place that could fit more people was a part of that.”
Inside the 35,694-square-foot YWCA are kitchens, bathrooms, a gymnasium that can hold 320 people, and various other rooms that can hold upwards of 100 people. The couple plans to live in the back half of the second floor.
“We like living in big, open spaces,” Hanlon said. “This space is so wonderful. There’s a natural space for a wellness center to be put in. There’s a nice-sized place for us to manufacture the bath and body works products. There are four different places for us to have different-sized concerts in.”
Also important is where the building is situated within the city, McAllister said. Just one block off Main Street, the YWCA is an ideal spot for the venue to enrich the arts and music scene in downtown Gloversville, he said.
“It’s right downtown, which is very important to us,” he said. “We want to be a part of the movement to bring people back to downtown Gloversville.”
Although the studio held its last show in early July, Hanlon and McAllister said they’re thinking about putting on a farewell concert in November before moving to their new home.
The support of the community was crucial to the success of SkyHeart. The couple said the studio’s current home allowed them to test the waters and grow as business owners, but it’s really always been about community.
“We started making concerts to give energy to downtown and to give local musicians a leg up with a true listening audience,” said McAllister, who is also a musician. “We feel like we’ve accomplished those goals, and now the size of this building will allow us to look at it more as a profit-making business for us and something to look forward to as we retire from our regular jobs.”
The YWCA still owns the building. Though the real estate transaction has not been finalized, the couple’s offer was accepted and they are now waiting for the state Attorney General’s Office to approve the sale, since the YWCA is a not-for-profit organization.
They said they hope to move in before winter. In the meantime, they continue to think of other types of entertainment they could eventually provide the community.
“There are so many things we could do,” Hanlon said. “We’re really only limited by ourselves and our bank account.”
“Whatever we do there, it’s with the community in mind,” McAllister said. “It’s a lovely building, and we look forward to being a vital part of downtown and Gloversville.”
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Categories: Schenectady County