Beloved Bushwick community art space and co-working hub 3rd Ward was abruptly shuttered Wednesday. The 30,000-square-foot space housed a wood shop, a metal shop, jewelry and textiles studios, a digital lab, and hosted classes including, most famously, “Drink and Draw.”
The decision to close may have been made as late as Tuesday evening, when one student reports he received an e-mail canceling his class an hour and a half before it was scheduled to begin.
3rd Ward has gone radio silent and a major fundraising drive has been called off as frustrated patrons complain that they want the money they paid for classes and memberships, as recently as this week, refunded.
Ten e-mails sent to onetime 3rd Ward employees bounced back, including two with the message “Effective October 8th, I am no longer employed at 3rd Ward,” and instructions to address future inquires to Chief Financial Officer Nick Alexander. Alexander has not responded to inquiries from the Voice.
Just five days before, 3rd Ward was still asking for contributions to its Fundrise (which is kind of like Kickstarter for real estate and other investment opportunities), through which the organization had raised $375,000 of a $1.5 million goal.
On Wednesday, 3rd Ward’s Fundrise page was amended with a message:
Update: Offering Discontinued
Due to the fact that 3rd Ward has shut down operations, we have discontinued this offering.
At Fundrise our goal is to democratize access local investment opportunities that otherwise would not available.
If an opportunity for investment that sufficiently protects investors emerges, we will reach back out to those who have indicated an interest.
The Fundrise Team
On Tuesday evening, before the news broke, one man griped on 3rd Ward’s Facebook page:
Dear 3rd Ward, cancelling a class 1 hour and 30 minutes before it starts is a shitty move. Give people some notice please. thanks!
After word got out on Wednesday, members and students used the space to voice their frustration over the way 3rd Ward was handling the closure:
Hi, I got an email this morning saying that my Intro to photoshop class got cancelled and that I had a $297 credit. I also read that you guys closed down today. No idea what happened because nobody picks up the phone or answers my emails. I don’t care for credits even if you re-open. I just want my money back. Thank you.
HEY THIRD WARD, RETURN YOUR PHONE CALLS AND EMAILS. YOU OWE PEOPLE MONEY!!!!!!!!! …Your own teachers had to find out through word of mouth that you were closing? Classes they planned to teach TONIGHT were cancelled? YOU STILL HAVEN’T PAID THEM!!! PAY UP!!!!!!!
You guys accepted money for memberships & classes knowing you were going to shut down & that the people paying you wouldn’t actually get what they were paying for? That’s probably the grossest, grimiest thing you could do within an artistic community. I hope I’m wrong in this but if I’m not, shame on you.
Pay your teachers. And thanks for leaving us to find out about your abrupt closing through Twitter.
Jason Goodman or Jeremy Lovitt plz say something
So disappointed in 3rd Ward’s closing (and with so little notice)! Distressed that money was poured into the new bar/cooking space, lots of renovations, and a misguided expansion to Philly instead of creating a sustainable model!
I just purchased a class and membership from you all 10 days ago. 2 days ago, I receive an email stating the class has been cancelled and I have credit, yet no one answers the phone and there is no information on the website. Today I receive an email saying the site is closing and refunds are not possible. Why were you still advertising classes so recently when you were aware you were closing your doors? I deserve and intend to be refunded, otherwise I will find myself reporting you all to the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney Genera and whoever else will hear my case and organizing legal action with the many others who have been wronged by these despicable business practices.
Multiple inquiries to 3rd Ward, by both phone and e-mail, have gone unanswered.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 10, 2013