Clifton Crafthouse Co-op is slated to open in 2022 • The Yellow Springs News

What if community spaces functioned as ecosystems?

This is the question implicit in the vision of those who work to bring the Clifton Crafthouse Co-op to life in the village of Clifton, just three miles from Yellow Springs. When complete, the Combined Faucet Room, Community Event Space, Commercial Kitchen, and Affordable Artist Residences will work in tandem to support each other.

The first of the three phases of the business will be the tap room and community space, scheduled to open in 2022. The tap room will serve locally sourced foods and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in an environment family-friendly, designed for inclusiveness and accessibility, with features such as an elevator and gender-neutral bathrooms. The total cost of all construction phases is estimated at $ 1 million.

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The Crafthouse will open at 4 Clay St. in Clifton, a short walk from the Clifton Opera House. The 120-year-old building, which previously housed Weber’s Antiques, was purchased last year by Piper Fernwey, a Clifton resident. (Fernwey is chairman of the board of Crafthouse, of which YS News editor-in-chief Cheryl Durgans is also a member.)

Fernwey said when she bought the “cornerstone building” – which locals say has housed everything from a general store to a post office to the square dance over the years – she knew it was ‘he should continue to serve the community in his next incarnation.

“The vision was to honor the history of the building and revitalize it in a way that brings it back to the community gathering space that it always has been,” Fernwey said. ” I went to [Clifton] Village council first and asked, “What do you want to see in your neighborhood? “”

Fernwey added that in considering the uses for the building, she also took into account the needs of the communities surrounding Clifton.

“Clifton is everyone’s cousin – it’s not just our community of 147,” she said. “It’s also Yellow Springs, Cedarville, Xenia and Wilberforce – we can be a gathering point with a space that meets the needs of all of these communities.”

Fernwey discovered that villagers and visitors to Clifton wanted a place to have a glass of wine or a beer after an opera performance or a hike in Clifton Gorge. A taphouse seemed like the best answer to this community desire – but most taprooms are only open for limited hours a few days a week, and Fernwey saw the building as ripe for much more.

“Underutilization is a problem that we are trying to avoid,” she said. “So I thought, ‘What else could I associate with [a taphouse] Who uses this building to better meet the needs of the community? “

An architectural rendering of Clifton Crafthouse Co-op by Field9 Architecture. The finished building, which is located across Clay Street from the Clifton Opera House, will feature a game room and communal commercial kitchen on the ground floor, community event space and hall seating. outdoor games on the second floor and artist residences on the third floor.

Fernwey looked at reports compiled by local organizations that identified community needs, and found inspiration in one made by Yellow Springs resident Jackie Anderson and Madeline Gresham in 2013. As students In a Master of Public Administration, or MPA, degree program at Wright State University, Anderson and Gresham envisioned a new use of an existing space during a semester-long town planning study. They chose the former site of Wright’s state-operated YS Family Health Clinic – now the home of Miami Township Fire-Rescue – as their canvas, sketching out living spaces for the artists, performance spaces and creation and a community garden.

Anderson – who will also act as co-advisor with Fernwey to seven current Wright State students in the MPA program who have chosen to work on the development of Crafthouse – said she and Gresham had plenty of help from officials of the village to carry out the initial project. . Once completed, they handed over the completed project to the Village.

“[The project] was really celebrated by some of our partners in Yellow Springs, so we handed it over to the people who had helped us… as a ‘thank you’ for helping us make a big dream come true, ”said Anderson.

Village leaders and YS Home, Inc. quickly asked Anderson and Gresham to help determine if their vision of affordable dual living / working spaces for artists could actually be undertaken in the village, and the study of resulting feasibility became the couple’s flagship project at Wright. State. The same study would come to Piper Fernwey eight years later, much to Anderson’s surprise.

“I just thought he went to the cemetery for some comprehensive studies,” she said. “I gave him back to the universe and wished him luck and thought he was gone – and he came back!”

The artists’ living and working spaces planned for the Crafthouse are largely based on the work of Anderson and Gresham, with the vision for the Crafthouse designed by Fernwey and translated into architectural renderings by FiELD9 Architecture in Mansfield, Ohio. The residences, designed as affordable housing with limited residence, will be located on the third floor of the building – complemented by the lowering of its existing attic – and will include a shared living space and five individual living and working units, including the one will be fully ADA-accessible.

“The idea is that we are going to build [artist] discipline-specific residences – so maybe two units will have their own sinks for visual artists who need to clean up, and maybe one will be soundproof for a musical artist, ”Fernwey said.

Resident artists will also use the community event space on the second floor of the building to host classes and workshops, with the space also available for business members of the cooperative. It will include a noise separation wall, sinks for cleaning, outlets for cooking equipment and storage space for materials. The room will be accessed by elevator or by a wrought-iron spiral staircase from the ground floor – a new addition Fernwey said she hopes will be created in collaboration by local artists with found ancient materials and artifacts. around the building during its renovation.

Local branding and marketing strategist Phillip O’Rourke, who partnered with the Crafthouse to create its logo and marketing materials, said he believed the Crafthouse community space would be particularly useful for people like yoga practitioners and lecturers – especially those in Yellow Springs, for whom sufficient space is sometimes a problem.

“If anyone wants to host a meeting or event in Yellow Springs, they’re now going to think of one of maybe four places – the same ones everyone always thinks of,” O’Rourke said.

“As a marketing professional, I often do seminars and [the Crafthouse] going to add another place where I can host something like this – I think it will create a great synergy for the people here.

The common kitchen will share the ground floor of the building with the tap room. The commercially licensed kitchen will provide cottage business owners with a place to produce their wares or to use in conjunction with all of the reception hall space to host a pop-up restaurant, allowing entrepreneurs to experiment with new concepts.

Fernwey said that while the kitchen is not intended as a business incubator, it will provide a place for small businesses to grow – just differently.

“We don’t need to provide [business incubation] because [Spark Fairborn and ECDI] are doing a great job, so we are working in partnership with them, ”said Fernwey. “One of the things we’ve found is that not everyone wants to grow up that way. can make this side concert my full concert. It’s a different definition of success.

At the heart of the Crafthouse is its structure as a cooperative, which was formalized through participation in the Co-Op Dayton Cooperative and Social Business Incubator. Under this structure, the Clifton Crafthouse Co-op will be jointly owned by individuals and businesses, with a one-time payment of $ 250 securing lifetime membership in the co-op.

Membership in the cooperative will eventually also be extended to valve room workers and resident artists, and members will share a portion of the profits and jointly decide on the objectives of the Crafthouse.
O’Rourke said that in the end, Crafthouse’s member-owned structure and community-driven approach drove him to work with the project.

“I was impressed with the inclusiveness – the Clifton Crafthouse will address so many aspects of a community, and each part aims to build a community,” he said. “Having been marketing for a lot of different things, it just has a different heartbeat – sure, it’s a business, but it’s people’s business.”

The fact that the business side of Crafthouse is controlled by members rather than investors means that making money won’t be the end result of the business, Fernwey said.

“If we run a surplus, instead of it just going into the pockets of investors, we can make other choices – like can we live in it for free? Can we make the rental of this space free? Can we offer scholarships to new businesses to rent the kitchen space? ” she said.

With the community invested in the co-op’s success as owners, patrons, teachers, students, artists and residents, Fernwey said Clifton Crafthouse Co-op aims to become a self-sustaining collaborative environment.

“It creates community wealth and meets the needs of the community, all at the same time,” she said.
A Clifton Crafthouse Co-op Kickoff Party, hosted by Bob Partida, will take place on Friday, November 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Senior Center, with light refreshments and music. For more information or to become a member-owner, visit

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