We were as shocked as anyone to learn this Wednesday that East Williamsburg’s massive maker space 3rd Ward had suddenly closed its doors. Since then, we’ve learned they’re keeping members’ money — an email to customers says they “will not be able to refund any payments made for membership services that have not been fully utilized before” 6PM Wednesday, even though some recipients didn’t get the email until after 9 o’clock that night — and giving them only until Tuesday to get their equipment, materials and artwork out of the building.
Founder Jason Goodman said in a message on the 3rd Ward site that the company can’t stay in business “due to a series of unfortunate events.” Although he’s declined or failed to respond to most media inquiries, he told The New York Times that the company couldn’t raise enough money to offset the costs of rapid expansion, including the new, 27,000-square-foot Philadelphia site opened in May. A letter to instructors reprinted by Hyperallergic says information on instructors’ pay has been transferred to the company’s finance department, though it doesn’t explicitly say if or when anyone will get paid. We’ve emailed the company’s CFO looking for clarification.
Meanwhile, Gothamist pointed to a pair of Montauk houses the site claimed Goodman purchased for a total of more than $700,000 this year and now rents on AirBNB for $275 per night.
Members are hoping to work with the site’s landlord to stay in some of the seven-year-old maker space, which offered workspace in classes in everything from woodworking to oil painting to web design, according to Gothamist. Some of them have begun to organize efforts at Save3rdWard.com, and others have aired their outrage on 3rd Ward’s Facebook page, which was still hawking giftcards as recently as last Thursday.
For anyone who booked courses at 3rd Ward through CourseHorse.com, the site’s co-founder Katie Kalper told us they’ll be able to get a 100% refund in the form of a CourseHorse credit usable for thousands of other courses at other places throughout the city. Affected students can write to helloATcoursehorse.com for more information.
“We’ve had hundreds of students sign up for 3rd Ward classes through our site (and partners Time Out, Brooklyn Mag/L Mag, Serious Eats, etc) in recent weeks,” Kalper wrote in an email. “As you know, 3rd Ward has said they will not be issuing any refunds, which we think, well, stinks.”
And Brooklyn Brainery, the Prospect Heights teaching space, has been using its website and Twitter to help locked-out 3rd Ward instructors find places to teach new classes and even finish ongoing ones abruptly cancelled by 3rd Ward’s surprise shutdown. Fitzcarraldo, the restaurant inside the space, is staying open for the time being, we’ve heard.
The space’s parent company, called 3rd Ward Holding LLC, had been in the midst of seeking investors on the site FundRise.com, which had said the company was valued at between $3 millon and $5.5 million and seeking to raise another $1.5 million to $3 milion from investors. The offering was discontinued by FundRise “due to the fact that 3rd Ward has shut down operations,” according to the site.