ARCH Gallery in Allston has closed its doors. It’s not clear when it will open again, or how it will operate if it does.
ARCH director Nicole Dessingue told Boston.com the property’s ownership group, real estate company CRE Management, decided to pull the plug on the gallery and event venue a few days before Christmas. CRE describes the closure as temporary, though it does not have a definitive plan for the space moving forward.
The 1,900-square-foot gallery at 52 Everett St. was originally branded as Allston Rock City Hall (hence the acronym). It is located within Studio 52, the 120-studio rehearsal and recording space for musicians, itself a converted warehouse. Both ARCH and Studio 52 are run by CRE Management, and they are not considered separate businesses.
As Allston Rock City Hall, the plan was to hold fully amplified concerts and larger functions. But CRE Management did not hold the necessary city licenses to do so at the location. Instead, it has functioned as an art venue, and launched with an opening gallery last March. Over the course of 2014, it has hosted work from more than 30 artists, as well as receptions and a series of acoustic shows.
Even after recasting itself as a gallery, ARCH had sought to obtain assembly and entertainment permits, which would have respectively allowed the gallery to host more than 49 people at a time and to hold amplified concerts.
Dessingue said she had planned to rent the space out for functions, which many galleries do as a revenue source, and said that it would have been an easier sell with a higher occupancy limit. And the ability to host amplified concerts would have allowed for higher-priced tickets than acoustic shows, she said.
CRE Management CFO and Studio 52 General Manager Rich Anton told Boston.com the company “jumped the gun’’ by opening ARCH last year without having secured the permits. Anton said the company is still planning to pursue them, and that it may still open the gallery space as a music hall eventually, but that the existing business model for the space wasn’t working. “It was not as profitable as we would have liked,’’ he said, adding that Studio 52 is responsible for the vast majority of the location’s business. As for an alternative function for the ARCH space, if not a music hall? “We want to keep it connected to the arts,’’ he said.
ARCH faced some neighborhood opposition for holding concerts, and seemingly conceded that getting the necessary permits to realize its goals would be a slog last year; Anton told Boston music blog Vanyaland that it was still pursuing the permits, but that it was doing so “very carefully which we expect will take a good amount of time.’’ Some of the reasons it was taking so long to obtain the permits were detailed in September by BDCwire. Dessingue, the ARCH director, said she “wishes the (permitting) process wasn’t what it is,’’ but that she didn’t have much involvement with it.
Dessingue is no longer employed by CRE following the gallery’s closure. She said she is hopeful to bring the ARCH idea to a new location, though she said she was not so sure another company would be willing to back it. She is also looking to relocate the gallery’s art and planned events to other locations in the area. Some ARCH art is currently on display at Out of the Blue Too Gallery in Cambridge, Dessingue said.