What’s stopping Guncotton from firing on all cylinders?
By LYNDON GERMAN
Aug 25, 2017, 08:08
Photo by Adrienne Wallace: The old Broadway Motor Co. building has been refurbished to house a future coffee shop and art gallery, but has been delayed since the planning began in January.
Hopewell – Hopewell residents have been anticipating going downtown to enjoy the Guncotton Coffee Shop and Art Gallery ever since the Hopewell Downtown partnership held its state of the downtown address on Jan. 19 of this year. Nearly 150 residents appeared in the newly refurbished building and hoped to go there again but since then, they continue to wait.
The Guncotton project is the first economic development project for community action agency CAPUP (Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People). Together the organization’s President Thomas Wagtaff, CAPUP’s Board Members and the Hopewell Downtown Partnership invested just a little more than $1.2 million in the old Broadway Motor Co. That funding is coming from multiple fund sources, according to Wagstaff.
He reported the numbers as follows: a little northwards of $500,000 from CAPUP, $100,000 from the Downtown Partnership with state funding making up the remaining differences. With that contribution the question remains, what’s stopping Guncotton from firing on all cylinders?
Wagstaff claims that in order to buy new equipment for the kitchen areas, he was relying on a grant from the state through The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. That grant has yet to be rewarded to CAPUP explained Wagstaff who applied through the City of Hopewell to obtain the grant.
“The board and I have work on this for some time, and we’re at the point now where I suggested we go by the equipment ourselves whether you have the money now or later,” the organization’s president stated.
Assistant City Manager Charlie Dane shared more on the matter. First he clarified that the City of Hopewell is not contributing any funds to the Guncotton building. The city wants to help Wagstaff but before they can award the grant the he must meet certain requirements.
“We’ve got to figure out how to make this work so that it meets certain grant requirements,” Dane said noting that the Downtown area needs a coffee shop and hopes that the two parties can figure something out.
All the coffee equipment has been purchased, according to Wagstaff, who’s eager to ramp up businesses as the project has received a lot of interest from the community. According to Wagstaff, the Historic Hopewell Foundation has reached out to hold events in the building, as well as a different wedding party who wanted to have rehearsal dinner there.
“Everyone wants to get in there and I’m really happy to get some things going downtown. Things are getting a little better, not as fast as we hoped, but it’s getting there,” Wagstaff explained.
However, Guncotton is not just an event space it’s an art space. The building has an additional floor for studios and though he doesn’t have the funding to provide artist a full-residency he plans on partnering with an artist to spearhead a residency program. Thus far though the program is more of an idea without the necessary funding.
Wagstaff hopes to have people in-and-out of the Guncotton space by the end of October once all the necessary equipment is purchased and the space is properly staffed, until then Hopewell residents will have to remain on the edge of their seat.