Unit 58 will open for business in Mill Mead Road, Tottenham this autumn.
Comprising 16 studios it will offer budding and established musicians the perfect studio facilities while an event space will host a mixture of photo shoots, rehearsals and evening events.
We met owner John O’Farrell to find out how he’s used money from the OIF fund…
Why the name?
“It does what it says on the tin because this is Unit 58. And the rehearsal/event space will, potentially, be called Lightworks. I’ve always loved this name but, in a weird kind of coincidence, I also found out recently that it was also the name of an arty nightclub in Manhattan where my parents met!”
“I was looking at different areas in London but they were too expensive and then things started to come up here and I realised that Tottenham has great potential. It has these great warehouse spaces and good transport links and this community has an exciting vibe to it. I always used to think of Tottenham as miles away but now I’m coming here every day and it’s a short drive from where I live – even quicker on the tube – and it’s actually a really attractive London location with the marshes and lots of nice green spaces and the River Lea.”
How did you hear about the Opportunity Investment Fund?
“Somebody in Tottenham mentioned that Haringey had this fund. It’s brilliant and I think all boroughs should have it. The fund supports so many businesses.”
How was the application process?
“It takes time but it was a good process because, by doing a full business plan and cash flow forecasts etc, it really got me thinking and studying what I was trying to do here. It helped dotting the i’s and cross the t’s and checking everything and to do a full, five-year forecast was actually a really good thing for me.”
What has the OIF money been used for?
“It’s for the whole fit out of the 16 studios along with construction fees and architects’ fees - that kind of thing.”
What do you like about the fund?
“Well, it’s a good rate and affordable to pay back. And I like the way you don’t have to pay it back immediately. I’ve got a year’s grace on it which really helps to get the business up and running before you have to start paying it back. It’s certainly better than a bank loan. And I like the way there’s a bit of a community around OIF people. You meet others receiving fund money and meetings are arranged periodically so you can discuss what we’re doing and so we can help each other.”
How have you found working with the council on the loan and wider business support?
“They’ve been great. And I’m not just saying that! Keith and Sandra who I’ve been dealing with in no way want to trip you up, but in every way are trying to help and facilitate what you’re trying to do and are just there to be a support. I have to say they’ve got a great job because what they’re doing is so beneficial to so many people.”
Would you recommend the fund to anyone else?
“Oh yes, and I have done already. I think it’s a great thing and it’s something the government should consider for all boroughs to encourage growth in a holistic way. So it’s not just about developers coming in and developing but working more with the grassroots.”
Tell us some more about your business…
“I’m an architect who started in Hackney in 2000. We found some warehouse space there and converted the top floor into an office and a live/work space that I lived in and then we converted it into lots of music studios. Then we did a similar thing in Manor House in another warehouse so now that’s given me the belief I can do it in a bigger space with a longer lease.
I used to DJ and run a club night and I’m hoping, once this is up and running, that I’ll have a bit more time and go back to making music because I love it. And it’s important to help others in their music careers which I will be doing here. It’s great to be around musicians and be a part of that world and I love the community when musicians come together.
We’ve committed to leasing some studios to local recording artists and we’ve got a lot of interest already. People will be able to lease from six months to a year so there’s a bit of continuity there. We just give them the shell space and they can use it as they wish. Physically the spaces are good quality with the correct acoustic installation and there will also be this event space, a little café area, and a balcony seating area.”
To get in touch with John email: firstname.lastname@example.org