Growing pains

June 27th, 2015 1:27 am

First Posted: 8/29/2013

You can’t argue with success.

Open Space, the 4,000-square-foot former garment cutting room at 70-71 South Main, home to the popular Boden Outlet, may soon open a second-floor multi-use venue.

But as the London-based clothing company expands, opportunities to rent out the first-floor hall have all but diminished.

Boden, once a part-time tenant in Open Space, has quickly become a full-time tenant, said Michael Lombardo, vice chairman of the city’s Redevelopment Authority.

“We have a great anchor tenant in Boden,” Lombardo said. “It would be like asking Macy’s to move out of the mall part time. They’re the anchor and we want to do everything we can to accommodate them.”

He said an upcoming wedding reception at Open Space is a logistical challenge.

“It’s going to be a magic act transforming that place,” Lombardo said. “When Boden closes on Saturday, we have to break down the store and set up for the reception. As soon as the reception is done, we have to tear it down and have the store ready to open first thing in the morning.”

The city’s Redevelopment Authority, which owns the building, has been scaling back events at the facility.

Success has led Boden, originally open one day a week, to open two days, then three, now four days a week. And now it is considering either a fifth day or expanded evening hours, Lombardo said.

That leaves less time for the hall to be used for wedding receptions, meetings and community events.

“It’s a good problem,” Lombardo said. “We’re thrilled that Boden is doing so well.”

Lombardo said the second floor would be an ideal location for a bigger, multi-use venue, the original intent of Open Space. All that’s needed is an elevator and handicapped bathrooms.

Lombardo said he knows the concept works and thinks the second floor would be perfect for rental hall.

“There’s a demand for the venue we created,” Lombardo said. The upper floor has a similar floor plan, but won’t have a dressing room or office, so there’s actually an extra 1,000 feet up there. It is currently being used for storage.

Boden is a London-based clothing company, founded in 1991 by Johnnie Boden, and has a call center at Center Point in Pittston Township. Pittston officials lured them to open an outlet store downtown, the only one in the United States.

Lombardo said rent from the building goes back into the building. A new side exit was recently added and will be operational once an emergency stair tower is installed.

Lobardo said that scaling back events at Open Space is not being driven by any reaction from Boden.

“It’s being driven by consideration on our part,” Lombardo said. “We realize they have to come in an hour early and set the store up. They’ve been excellent tenants and we want to do what we can for them.”

Open Space, a public-private partnership, opened in December 2011 with much fanfare. The place was primarily renovated by a volunteer city crew whose members included Lombardo, Mayor Jason Klush, Redevelopment Authority Chairman Jim Zarra and Pittston Councilmen Mike Lombardo and Joe Chernouskas. The authority saved nearly $500,000 by keeping the work in house.

Open Space features a gallery look with open ductwork, hardwood floors, two stages and specialized flexible walls and a state-of-the-art wall hanging system designed for displaying art.