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Owner of Evolved Hopes to Restore Vacant Hudson Theater Building

Brent Warren Brent Warren Owner of Evolved Hopes to Restore Vacant Hudson Theater BuildingPhotos by Brent Warren.
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The new owner of the former Hudson Theater hopes to breathe some life into the long-vacant building, although exactly what form that will take has yet to be determined.

Nick Wolak, the owner of Evolved Body Art, bought the building at 367 E. Hudson St. in May, and is now hoping to hear from community members and neighbors about what they would like to see done with it.

“We hired an asbestos abatement company that came in the beginning of June, and then we started cleaning it out, because there was a bunch of trash inside,” he says. “So right now it’s a shell, and for the next few weeks I’m listening, so if people have ideas they should contact me…and I’m especially interested in someone coming in with their own idea, and I would just rent the spot out for a very reasonable amount, so we could just make that happen.”

Wolak wants to reassure people that the project is now moving forward, even if the plan remains open-ended for the time-being.

“The completely honest answer is I don’t know what’s going to happen with this space,” he says, “but, something’s going to happen…it’s not going to just sit here.”

If no one comes forward soon with a concept and a desire to rent out space in the building, Wolak says that he and his team have a few ideas of their own that they’re prepared to move quickly on.

One of those is to take the roof off of the back two-thirds of the building — the original theater space — leaving only the original steel arches. The brick walls would remain and be filled with murals, while the open-air interior space would be turned into a community garden.

Wolak has also considered removing the very back of the building — the part that is the most damaged from years of deterioration — so that a small parking lot could be put in.

“I don’t know what would better serve this neighborhood, a big event space or a smaller building with a big parking lot,” he says. “The better this neighborhood is becoming, the more parking issues we’re having.”

The front portion of the building is “actually quite awesome, as far as potential goes,” according to Wolak. “I have more ideas than time, but I would love to see a kava lounge in Columbus, or a cacao house.”

Wolak has started to reach out to community groups. He’s scheduled to speak to the Glenn Echo Neighborhood Community Association and has spoken to his fellow SoHud business owners, but plans to do more talking and listening in the next few weeks. He also plans to speak with Tim and Eliza Ho, the artists behind the tree mural that graces the north side of the building (the other part of that mural was recently painted over).

Whatever ends up going into the former theater building, Wolak sees the project as a continuation of the work that Evolved did in renovating its building at 2520 Summit St. Evolved bought the building about a year and a half ago after the 15th and High project forced the business to move from its long-time High Street location.

Wolak’s team worked to uncover the original hardwood floors of the building on Summit, and also made an effort to preserve historic elements like a pick-up window that was in use when the building housed a pharmacy.

“We decided to preserve it to remind us of the layers of history…it’s important to remember we’re not the first people to use this space,” he says. “Which is not to say we’re not looking to go forward, we’re in the process of putting in solar panels and hope to be eventually between 60 and 80 percent powered by solar.”

“I think that Columbus is losing a lot of our history, a lot of our culture, by tearing down 100 year old buildings to build these condos and bland buildings that are popping up all over the country,” he adds, “and I think people in Columbus are really short-sighted to not do anything about it, so this is our way of sort of taking a stance.”

For more information, or to get in contact with Nick Wolak, visit evolvedbodyart.com.

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