August 03, 2017
Every day, dozens of musicians walk in and out of the warehouse-turned studio space known as Grime Studios located at 299 Presumpscot Street in Portland. The band rehearsal venue rents all 26 rooms each month and has a lengthy waitlist. Financing from CEI supported the renovation and buildout of the existing studio space.
When Justin Curtsinger of Portland was offered the role of managing the failing Prime Studios, a 15-unit music rehearsal space located at Thompson’s Point, he took on the project as a short-term endeavor. Within two months, he changed the name to Grime Studios and grew the occupancy to full capacity with monthly tenants for the 13 vacant rehearsal spaces. Not long after, Thompson’s Point was purchased for development and Justin was notified that the studio building would be torn down. With a strong clientele, a significant waitlist, and a business that was filling a niche market for musicians, he immediately set out to find a new space where he could continue and grow the business.
After numerous real-estate options fell through, he identified a large space in a warehouse on Presumpscot Street. Justin worked with experienced consultant Tom Blackburn of Creative Space, who adopted and supported the vision of Grime, acting as an imperative consultant through the process of locating, leasing, and building out a new shared studio space. “He knew the business vocabulary and believed in the project, and he acted as a representative for Grime. It would not have happened without him,” said Justin. He continued, “A huge part of the process was the support from the landlord here at Presumpscot Street who understood the importance of the project.”
When he found the space he knew he would need additional funding to build out the music studios. He began looking for financing options at a local bank. Although the bank was unable to pursue the loan, the loan officer strongly advocated for the project, and directed Justin to CEI.
Justin worked closely with CEI loan and investment officer Art Stevens to develop a financial package that would support the renovation of the new Presumpscot Street location. “The efforts of Justin and Tom throughout the transition to non-profit status and managing the step by step details of a difficult leasehold improvement schedule further demonstrated their commitment to the project. The end result provides a unique and valuable resource for the regional creative economy,” said Art.
Grime Studios closed a loan deal with CEI in April 2015, which was matched with grant funds that Justin and his team sought out independently. “The loan from CEI was the point of no return,” said Justin. While taking on the studio was originally a casual endeavor, Justin found himself committed to the success and growth of the business, managing the day to day operations of the studios as well as the phased expansion.
“CEI was ridiculously important in making this a reality,” said Justin.
CEI’s financing allowed for the buildout of 20 rehearsal studios, in addition to the original six at the new location, and the completion of Grime’s Phase One plan. Grime stands to remain a fully occupied studio space serving the rehearsal needs of over 50 bands in the Portland area during any given month. The business has a waitlist and plans to expand with more band practice rooms. The project has been successful because of Justin’s hard work and commitment to the project, as well as the key players who were willing to take a risk.