Wake County

Musicians bemoan lack of practice space in Raleigh

Jamal Nour, a hip-hop and heavy metal producer, leaves his rental space at Capital Sound Space on Monday, July 25, 2016.
Jamal Nour, a hip-hop and heavy metal producer, leaves his rental space at Capital Sound Space on Monday, July 25, 2016. ccioffi@newsobserver.com

Musicians are scrambling to find new practice space after being evicted from a building that has been used for nearly two decades.

Capital Sound Space, a run-down complex of four buildings on Capital Boulevard at the northern end of downtown Raleigh, is for sale. Now some local musicians say new development is pricing out local artists who need cheap spaces to practice and stash equipment.

“It’s a danger of your city becoming too expensive to practice in,” said Paul Siler, who performs with several bands, including Birds of Avalon, and co-owns Kings, a music venue on Martin Street.

Siler said he was one of the first tenants at Capital Sound Space, next to the Cotton Mill condominiums. The complex has most recently featured practice space and recording studios, along with a salon, a sign shop and a church.

It’s important for musicians looking to make connections in the local music scene to have a place to practice and meet other artists, Siler said.

“It’s a nurturing environment for your music career,” he said.

Siler has been trying to find a cheap practice space for musicians near downtown, but it’s been tough. Typically, such spaces don’t generate a lot of income for landlords.

The Capital Sound Space property is owned by 622 Capital, according to Wake County records. The manager of the company, Robert Chappell, is also vice president at Joyner Realty, according to state records.

Someone who answered the phone at Joyner Realty on Monday declined to comment on the property or its potential sale.

Mikels and Jones Properties is listing the site for sale. Bert Nowell, a real estate agent at the company, declined to say who is buying the 2.1-acre property, but he said it will be redeveloped.

According to the real estate listing, the site is zoned to accommodate a 12-story building.

Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, who lives at the Cotton Mill, said her homeowners association was informed that a five-story self-storage facility is planned for the site.

“Personally, I’m disappointed,” Baldwin said, “because I think this is an underutilized use for that spot.”

Travis “T-Ross” Ross, owner of Redline Recording Studios, said he knows of at least six people who are being evicted from Capital Sound Space.

“It’s a really big hit to the musical community in the area,” Ross said.

He plans to look for practice space in surrounding towns, where rent would likely be cheaper. Some musicians have rented storage units in Raleigh because they can’t find anything else, he said.

Over the weekend, musician Stephen Gardner was loading his music equipment into his minivan, where it will stay until he can find a new place to put it. He said he first rented space at Capital Sound about 18 years ago and shared the space with several bands.

The musty building, which dates back to the 1950s and smells of stale cigarettes, was a crossroads for many musicians.

“When I was young and just starting out, I would not have been able to get shows and meet people without a building like this,” Gardner said.

He hasn’t had luck finding a new space downtown.

“Raleigh used to be a town that took care of its bands,” Gardner said. “Now there’s no place to practice.”

Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi