LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County art studio is in danger of closing, after getting shut down by the City of Lakeland. On Monday, building inspectors and fire department officials with the City of Lakeland shut down KRaP (Kimberly’s Recycled Art Projects) Art LLC.
Inspectors found for than a dozen violations, including extension cords used instead of proper electrical wiring, and no sprinkler system. “The biggest issue, based on the capacity
“The biggest issue, based on the capacity for a public assembly facility of that size, you need an overhead sprinkler system,” said City of Lakeland Public Information Officer Kevin Cook. “There’s a public safety issue there. Today, we had a department head Meeting and discussed some possible work-arounds. We plan to meet with Kimberly and discuss some possible solutions and how the city can help her.”
According to Cook, the Fire Department was conducting an inspection after recent event activity at the KRaP Art location.
“It appeared that the facility is being used as a place of assembly and there were no permits on file for a change of use from warehouse space. LFD notified Building Inspection of work being completed without permits. This work includes but is not limited to; a wall built to separate the art area from an auto body shop. This wall is required to be fire rated and extend to the underside of the roof. It is neither. A stage has been built and has storage underneath including the storage of flammables. Extensive electrical work has been completed that includes lights mounted on pallets, extension cords used to run electricity to various parts of the facility and an exposed junction box covered with a piece of plywood. There is no Automatic Fire Sprinklers which is required due to the space having a capacity of over 300 people. There is also an inadequate number of doors for people to exit in case of emergency. It is my understanding that the space was previously warehouse. This means that the present use would have to undergo a change of use to allow for the Business and Assembly use. This is an important step to make sure that the building meets the building and fire code to protect patrons in general and in case of fire or other catastrophic event.”
Kimberly Wyant, the founder, is asking the community to help save her studio, which is inside an old warehouse. The community space is an art gallery where people can paint, make pottery and other art. It is also a music and performance venue.
KRaP Art has 60 days to comply with renovations needed to keep the studio open. Wyant estimates she will need to raise $75,000 for labor and supplies to bring the building up to code.
“We are working on relocating our pottery classes and will be hosting major fundraising events in the next few weeks,” Wyant said. “If you ever wanted to make this happen and wanted to support our mission, now is the time to really pull out all the stops and help us reach our goal. We have come so far and have created such a beautiful space we can’t let it stop now!”
If you would like to help click here.