Proposed new artist space in Ybor City plans open house

The public will get a sneak peek Saturday, March 19, of a new artists’ haven in the works for Ybor City. It’s name? Meatyard.

Named after the late Jerry Meatyard, an artist and long-time professor at Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City, the artist-themed development is planned at a 1920s-era warehouse originally owned by parts distributor Dave Gordon and Co.        

Plans call for 55 affordably priced artist studios, a gallery and communal woodworking and print shops. Developers anticipate the facility could be available in early 2023.

“The warehouse is a big open space. It provides a lot of flexibility for us to lay out studios for artists,” says Fadi Garcia, principal of Open Workshop for Architecture, where his wife Jessie Shell is a partner. “The first level is designed as a showroom. It’s kind of the perfect place to create a gallery space.”

The facility at 1728 E. 2nd Ave. will open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a free, pre-renovation open house featuring local artists work and live music.

“We’re doing this open house really to bring awareness to the project,” Garcia says. “The focus is really the artist, so we can bring more awareness within the artist community. We want to bring the artists back to Ybor City.”

The Ybor Pedroso LLC development, the vision of Real Estate Investor Darryl Shaw, is in the schematic design phase, Garcia says. The bulk of the renovation work is anticipated inside.

The project must be approved by the Barrio Latino Commission before developers can obtain permitting to proceed. Costs on the project, to be built out by EWI Construction of Ybor City, weren’t available. 

“Prices are going up and down. It’s hard to say what the overall budget will be,” Garcia says.

The studios would be primarily for artists of two-dimensional media, including photography, oils, pastels and possibly upholstery and sculpting. Welding and pottery are not included; welding machines and kilns would require special permitting.

The development is expected to help fill the void for a strong artist core.

“There’s a lot of artists,” Garcia says. “They’re kind of scattered around.”

Neil Gobioff, president of the Gobioff Foundation, who has been an adviser on the project, says Meatyard will begin to address the lack of artist space.

“I think this will work towards re-creating a centralized area for artists in Tampa,” he says.

Artists had a robust presence in Ybor City during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, when there were central gathering places for learning, producing and exhibiting, notes Michele Smith, executive director of the Tampa Arts Alliance

“With the renaissance of development, many artists could no longer afford to live or have work space in the area,” she explains. “That’s one reason Meatyard Ybor is valuable -- it honors some of the arts history of Ybor while assuring a future for artists to be present.”

Read about an Artspace Art Market Survey in Tampa.

Learn about a March 25 Group Art Show from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1521 E. 7th Ave.

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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune