After two very long weeks, Studio 14 owner Scott Gately finally sees a light at the end of the tunnel for when he can reopen his building.
For 27 years, Gately has provided Baltimore’s musicians with an affordable rehearsal studio space inside a converted warehouse at 239 N. Franklintown Road in West Baltimore. Earlier this month, the Baltimore Fire Department received a complaint about Studio 14. A department inspection discovered multiple permit and safety violations. Officials ordered that Gately shutter the building until he could get it up to code.
Days after the closure, Gately said he was shocked by how quickly it all happened, particularly since he said the fire department checks his building regularly. “I never expected to have to go through this process. I take full responsibility,” he said. “People are heartbroken.”
Baltimore Fire Department spokesman Roman Clark didn’t return multiple messages requesting information about the specific code and permit violations. Gately said he needed to replace his sprinkler system and re-certify the building’s electrical work. He has hired contractors to fix those issues and says Studio 14 should reopen in “30 days or less,” once he’s obtained the proper permits.
“We were out of code, and we’re doing things to correct it,” he said. “I’ve got all the professionals I can on it. I’m spending the money, and I’m going to make it right.”
Studio 14’s sudden closure pushed out dozens of bands that had regularly practiced there for years. One of those groups was heavy metal group Bridge to Divide. Lead vocalist David Costello said his band had been playing there for about a year, but noted he’d rented space there with other bands for at least ten years. Bridge to Divide was playing a show at the Ottobar when they learned about the closure, but fortunately, they already had most of their equipment with them, Costello said.
“It wasn’t the most ideal situation, but we’re very understanding about it,” said Costello. “[Gately has] been really cool about everything. I think he’s looking out for the safety of everybody.”
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society band was also forced out. Artistic director Aran Keating said the news, which they learned from other bands online, was “just another demoralizing, frustrating thing.” BROS had already been kicked out of the Bell Foundry with dozens of others in December. The space in Station North housed the rock opera troupe’s rehearsal and production space that they had built up over the last four years. They’ve since launched a fundraising campaign to get their own permanent space.
“It’s just another hiccup,” Keating said of Studio 14’s temporary shuttering. He said the building has generally been “safe and clean” while the BROS band has practiced there for the last three years. He also said Gately was “very communicative” with them once they had learned about the closure.
Gately hired Harris Fire Protection to update a few pieces of the sprinkler system, install pull-down fire alarms and strobe lights, submit an evacuation plan to the fire marshal’s office and construct a designated room for the sprinkler system so that the fire department can have “unfettered” access to it in case of a fire. Its work should be finished by this Saturday, he said.
He also hired an electrical contractor to examine the wiring of his space, point out any necessary fixes and re-certify it. An architect will then separately verify that all repairs are up to code, he said.
Members of the fire department have continued to stop by amid the ongoing repairs to familiarize themselves with the building, Gately said. “It couldn’t be a nicer bunch of guys. They want to see us reopen,” he said.
Costello said he’s watched a musical community develop around Studio 14 over the last decade. “I’ve met so many bands and so many people in the music scene,” he said. “It’s just been a great community and a way for musicians to meet other musicians.”
Gately is hoping to pull together some of those artists for a benefit show that could subsidize some of his repair expenses. Plenty have expressed interest in playing a show together, and some individuals have even offered to help out with the physical repairs, he said.
“The outpouring from everybody, it’s been very humbling and very overwhelming,” he said.
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