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Claremont MakerSpace to Begin Sawtooth Renovations



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Claremont — Interior renovations to the Claremont MakerSpace property at 46 Main St. are expected to begin next month and be finished by late summer, one of the nonprofit’s co-founders said last week.

“We have our building permits and now we have to schedule construction,” said Jeremy Katz, who founded MakerSpace with Steve Goldsmith. “Hopefully we can begin in April.”

The building, commonly called the Sawtooth because of a roof design that allows in natural light, is roughly 11,000 square feet and two stories tall. There is no floor separating the stories, so the interior is open to the roof and the equipment and work studios will be on one floor.

The concept behind MakerSpace is to allow anyone — from hobbyists to entrepreneurs — to have access in a shared workspace to equipment they couldn’t obtain on their own.

In Claremont, those work spaces will include metal, wood and electrical shops, jewelry and textile studios, and a computer lab training room, according to plans on file in the city’s planning and development office. Additionally, there will be a common work area and 13 individual work spaces.

“One side will be for heavy equipment and the other side will be mostly classrooms and workspaces,” Katz said.

The brick wall dividing the interior will remain.

“We want to maintain the building’s historical structure as much as possible,” he said.

The plans say the equipment to be installed will include embroidery and sewing machines, jewelers’ work benches, drill presses, table saws, sanders, hand tools, printers and scanners.

“It is a range of specialty and high-tech tools for all types of makers and entrepreneurs, from the industrial side such as machining and woodworking and then the technology side, for high-tech fabrication, and then the arts,” said Josh Busheuff, MakerSpace’s assistant director, during the tour of the building in 2015.

Katz said the next step in the project is to complete the remediation of the contamination that was the result of the building’s past industrial use as foundry for the Sullivan Machine Co. Katz said that will involve installing a vapor barrier with venting over the soil and stone floor, followed by a concrete slab that will “cap and seal everything underneath.”

The city excavated and removed most of the contaminated soil before it sold the property. The city’s project manager, Kurt Beek, said wells were dug and a compound injected into the ground that stabilized any remaining contaminated soil. MakerSpace bought the property for a nominal fee with the condition it complete the remediation work. Additional wells will be dug to monitor the ground under the concrete slab.

Katz said installation of the tools and equipment will begin as they get closer to receiving a certificate of occupancy.

“We are really excited and when it opens, we think it will have great value and be a benefit to the city,” Katz said.

In September 2015, Claremont MakerSpace received a $250,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission to help finance restoration of the mill building. Katz said in an email last week the total renovation cost is in excess of $500,000, including the environmental work.

MakerSpace also received a New Hampshire Community Finance Authority tax credit of $360,000 and support from a variety charitable foundations, Katz said.

The building was originally 26,000 square feet, but more than half of it was demolished when an attached public parking garage was built several years ago. In addition to removing contaminated soil, the city also cleaned the exterior brick and put in new windows.

According to its website, Claremont Makerspace will have workshops and tools for woodworking, precision machining, fiber arts, electronics, welding, robotics, jewelry and metalsmithing, graphic design, programming and more. It will also offer classes by local educators, artisans and industry professionals.

Additional information on Claremont MakerSpace and membership fees can be found on claremontmakerspace.org.

Claremont MakerSpace is one of two projects being undertaken TwinState MakerSpaces, started by Katz and Goldsmith. The other is Upper Valley MakerSpace, which is still looking for a site.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.