AD: What are the issues with code that are threatening to close you down?
JP: The issue is this back door. There’s a sidewalk that leads to the street and it’s about 20 feet. It’s owned by the neighbor. The neighbor is actually a cool guy. He has no problem with this door being an emergency exit. But what he doesn’t want to do is have it free for me to walk back there and go on his property. He wants to maintain his private property. The only way the codes will accept that this is a door is if the neighbor signs an easement which is an all eternity bridge that connects the two properties. He’d have to give up rights to his own property and it’s asking too much.
So even though we have 2,400 square feet in here, our occupancy is now being determined by only the two front doors, so it’s getting dropped from 260 to 49 people. If that happens it just doesn’t make it possible to continue doing what we’re doing. I can’t do business here and so it’s gonna return to the abandoned block it was. There’s been development since I’ve been over here which is cool, but in general there’s a lot of undeveloped property sitting around with nothing happening to them and you have someone like myself investing in these properties and they’d rather have it continue to be empty.
AD: This must be frustrating to handle…
JP: It sucks because I only have two dollars in my pocket and we were at the peak. We have two big music festivals coming up. Our calendar is booked. We’re in the highest demand we’ve ever been in. It’s at peak capacity with events everyday. It was a booming business. It seemed like something people needed. It was always amazing. I loved it, it was beautiful, it was wonderful. It was cool that I could provide a space where people could just be free for a while. They would escape their day and express themselves.
AD: It has been such a great space for artists to network. Where else would they get a chance to meet each other. Especially when you’re offering a space for so many different mediums. You’re bridging that gap between different arts.
JP: Right. And I made a point not to make it about making money on my end. I give other people the opportunity to make money first. I’d make it so that there was no risk. You don’t have to invest anything but your time and I’m gonna give you platforms and put you in front of people and allow you to try to sell your work. So many artists got their first commissions here.
AD: So you’ve started looking at new locations for the Vault?
JP: Yeah I’ve looked at some promising locations. They want a lot of money for some of these spots so we’ll see what happens. But I think Syracuse is ready for us to expand and move somewhere bigger.
AD: Could you start a crowdfunding campaign to help fund it?
JP: I have a very hard time asking for things, especially money, but I probably will.
AD: I’m sure you could get a bunch of local artists in on it. Have them offer a CD, a small piece of art or stickers.
JP: That’s a great idea because its always been a community space. I’ve stuck to certain principles through this whole process and one of them is “Can this be a business were everybody wins?” It doesn’t have to be at the expense of someone else. So much has always felt like compromise in business to me. The other thing I strive to do is to see what would happen if I literally just always gave to anyone that seemed like they needed anything or asked anything of me. I wanted to prove a lot of notions wrong.