York-native musicians Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Gracey purchased the 47,000-square-foot Bi-Comp building on East York Street - formerly occupied by a printing company- for $164,000.
The structure, they said, would undergo a $10 million renovation and would eventually become the headquarters for their Lancaster-based company Think Loud. They said it would also house a music studio and "tech company" that could create 70 to 100 jobs in York.
Glancing inside the building that day, I saw an empty shell littered with debris.
Bill Hynes, a real estate developer and Think Loud CEO, thought the same thing when he first walked through the building after Taylor and Dahlheimer spotted it. When they saw an open area on the top floor with a slightly vaulted ceiling, they pictured a "new spot."
"I didn't know we were in the market for a studio," Hynes said. "They said this was it."
I got to check out progress at the building during a tour earlier this month with Hynes and Gracey.
Much of the debris was gone. Plumbing and HVAC was installed. Shells of walls, kitchens and restrooms were taking shape. A prototype for a new window design was in place near the entrance. During the tour, it was clear that Hynes and the guys in the band are in touch with York County-based Kinsley Construction Inc. and LSC Design Inc. about every step - from permits to color schemes.
Hynes said things are going well. A tentative end date has been set for the summer. In addition to housing the band's new studio and offices, the project is also designed to attract more businesses and young profes-
sionals to York. Here's a floor-by-floor breakdown of the plans:
Ground level: Hynes said building plans they submitted - to bring it up to code - were approved without delay. The first floor, he said, will house offices for Think Loud and Idea Tree, a York company that runs a beta social networking site. The focal point of the floor will be a large staircase that ascends to the other floors. The building will also have two elevators, one multi-
purpose lift and one to haul heavy equipment up to the studio. Outside, there will be a walled-in parking lot. The building, Hynes said, will have key code access and a sophisticated surveillance system that can allow Live members to receive updates on their smartphones. Since the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, its exterior must remain white. But Hynes said that lighting features will add interest to the building.
Second floor: Sales and administrative offices for the "tech company" Think Loud has yet to announce will occupy this floor. It will be one of two locations for company operations. More than 100 people will likely be hired over a five-year period, Hynes said. Between Think Loud and the tech company, about 10 people have been hired so far. This floor and many other parts of the building will pay homage to the structure's industrial roots. Old elevator doors will be on display, hardwood floors will be restored and some of the original brickwork will be exposed. Since the project repurposes many elements, Hynes said he hopes it receives an LEED certification for sustainability. In addition to older elements, plans call for the latest technology, including WiFi and an audio feed from the studio to other rooms in the building.
Third floor: This floor will house individual suites that Taylor, Dahlheimer and Hynes will likely use after long days in the studio or office. Each room has its own closet and bathroom. The floor will also feature a lounge and TV area with flat-screens. Live memorabilia will be displayed on the walls. The metal and wood framing for a bar was already visible during the tour. The rear portion of the space will be a full gym flanked by a sauna, massage area and steam room. A security manager and cleaning staff will keep things running smoothly - almost like a hotel, Hynes said. Since Gracey lives in California with his wife and son, this floor includes a large suite they will call home while visiting York.
Fourth floor: There are five more mini suites, which will likely be used by studio staff or guests of the band. The outlines of a large kitchen, which will be able to accommodate about 20 people, were visible in the middle of the floor. There will be access to a roof deck and cooking area above. The other half of the floor will house the studio, Hynes said. It will include two isolation booths and a control room. A rehearsal space, lounge and bar round out that part of the building. Gracey said that it won't be a commercial studio. Live and friends of the band will likely be the only ones who access it.
"The music that they're going to make in this space is going to be amazing," Hynes added.
PopEye is a bi-weekly column focusing on the ever-changing landscape of popular culture. To reach writer Erin McCracken, call 717-771-2051 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designer shares plans for Live's new downtown York studio
Horacio Malvicino has been building studios for three decades.
As the managing director of Malvicino Design Group - a firm specializing in architectural, acoustical and technical systems designs - he works on projects all over the globe. Clients included Kings of Leon, Celine Dion and the late Whitney Houston. Other projects have included the International Broadcast Center for the Summer Olympics in London and HBO Latino.
During a recent interview from the company's U.S. headquarters in New York City, Malvicino talked about what brought him to York.
Months ago, one of his colleagues passed along Think Loud's plans to transform a historic White Rose City structure into business offices and a recording studio.
Malvicino said he was intrigued. He's been familiar with Live, the multiplatinum rock band with York roots, since the 1990s. Back then, bands favored big, elaborate studios. Now, the industry favors smaller, intimate recording spaces.
As part of the development company Think Loud, three Live members - Chad Taylor, Chad Gracey and Patrick Dahlheimer - have carefully crafted plans for a large studio in York. Malvicino has visited the site, formerly occupied by Bi-Comp printing company, a few times.
"The idea is quite unique because the guys have a very clear idea of what they want," Malvicino said. "They're so down-to-earth and business oriented."
Not all rock stars are easy to work with, Malvicino added. It helps that Think Loud works with skilled architects and contractors.
The idea for the fourth floor involves more than a studio; it's a complete support area for the band that features lounges and suites.
On any studio build, isolation is critical. That usually requires building a box within a box to soundproof the space. But since the top floor has vaulted ceilings, wood details and large windows overlooking York, Malvicino said the plan is to isolate the floor and ceiling and keep some of the original details. The recording area will likely be able to accommodate up to 25 people.
And the rehearsal space next door is even larger. Both the studio and rehearsal space will be connected to the central control room. The band will be able to record from both places. And, with microphones connecting the control room to other areas of the building, musicians will even be able to record from the comfort of their suites or from echo chambers being built from old vaults found in the basement.
"It's a very flexible space," Malvicino said. "It's fully integrated (for) their own record company."
In-studio monitoring and video equipment will create a multimedia center that can be used to tape sessions or webcast them. "You never know how iconic that recording can be," said Malvicino, who recalled working with Michael Jackson in the early '80s.
As for interior design, Malvicino said the band will likely incorporate fabrics, candles and lighting elements. Taylor and Dahlheimer will be able to utilize their respective collections of guitars and basses.
Malvicino hopes to install the consul, built by Peter Gabriel's UK company, in March. After those mixing and recording systems are in place, the band will be able to work on its album as construction continues. Malvicino said he's shooting to install the rest of the equipment in late June or early July. In the meantime, Malvicino Design Group has about seven other projects in the works, including one in Brazil.
Malvicino, who was born in Italy and moved to the states to attend college, calls himself a city guy. But he added that he's looking forward to spending time in a small city in the middle of rural Pennsylvania this spring.
"I can guarantee this is going to be very successful," he said. "This is going to be one of the most iconic studios from the past 20 years."
- ERIN McCRACKEN,
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