Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Some years ago, while others looked for Arts District properties that they could revive with the simple turn of a key, Brett Wesley spent big building fresh. He created the first standalone gallery space in the neighborhood (now occupied by programming school PunchCode); he developed the Arts Square complex, which includes the bustling cocktail lounge Artifice and the performance space that serves as home for the Cockroach Theatre company; and he was the first to volunteer land for Vegas’ still-in-development fine arts museum.
The museum has since moved on to Symphony Park, but Wesley found a use for the land intended for it, and it’s another fresh concept. 201 East Charleston, a three-story, 16,550-square-foot mixed use building that Wesley conceived in collaboration with former ATLAS architect Brett Robillard (now a principal at Stantec), is now building adjacent to the Arts Factory and Art Square. And Wesley intends for it to complement both of those complexes, as well as the neighborhood at large.
“Once we knew there wasn’t going to be a museum on that site, I started polling the neighborhood about what would be great to have there,” Wesley says. “The goal was to design a building that’s striking, a statement. And it needed to have the flexibility to have retail, offices, galleries, maybe a café. That seems to be what wants to happen on that side of the street.”
201 East Charleston should accommodate all those uses, and look good doing it. At once crisply modern and compatible with the Arts District’s midcentury industrial aesthetic, 201 East Charleston is both conscientious in its design — the interior is high-ceilinged and built for natural light, while maintaining energy efficiency — and adaptable enough to handle the needs of a neighborhood that’s beginning to attract residential and professional tenants by the truckload. And the 40-space parking lot is a welcome commodity in a neighborhood that’s jam-packed every First Friday.
“Everybody has a different need,” Wesley says of the tenant inquiries he’s received thus far. One possible tenant, a software company, is interested in the entire second floor as an open-concept workspace; a “tiny café-bistro” may occupy a third of the first floor. “Until leases get signed, I don’t know whether it’s ultimately going to be three, five or eight [tenants]. But I’ll know soon. The prospective tenants are getting more serious.”
Depending on weather and other factors, Wesley anticipates construction will be completed by late April — at which time tenants can begin doing their own buildouts. It’s not difficult to imagine 201 East Charleston possibly serving up coffees or hosting gallery shows by midsummer.
“I try to strike a balance with all my projects — making it fun, making it cool, making it energy efficient, making it really accessible, parking parking parking,” Wesley says. “I love all my projects, but I think this one is going to be my favorite. It’s a little gem.”