The air is thick inside Grandview's Junctionview Studios Friday night.
Thick with excitement. Thick with intrigue. Thick with the smell of beer and of several hundred people packed into a dark, mostly standing-room-only space.
Most of the attendees heard about the open house from a vague Wonderland Facebook page that amassed more than 3,000 fans in less than two weeks.
The massive turnout is "a testament to the need for just having a venue like this," Brouillette says. He goes on to lead a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation about Wonderland's potential, stressing its value to the community and recalling Columbus' "indie art capital" slogan.
"If we're going to keep comparing ourselves to New York - Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village - where did they start?" Brouillette says. "They expanded. We can't just keep relying on single spaces and relying on the Short North or Junctionview or Buggyworks. That's where this comes in."
During a Q&A session, people ask how the project is being funded, what the neighborhood is like and what will happen to Junctionview Studios. Brouillette assures the crowd that the Junctionview warehouse space will continue to operate through 2014, when it'll be demolished as part of the Grandview Yard development.
"The waiting list right now - I actually counted yesterday, and there are 170 artists ... still looking for space," Brouillette says. "The chance of [Wonderland] creating more than 170 spaces probably isn't going to happen. I'm almost definite that we can keep both facilities up and running."
Sandbox Columbus is also relocating, upgrading from its 3,500-square-foot Short North location to 8,000-10,000 square feet in Wonderland. After the outpouring of interest Hunegnaw's seen, he says he's sure it will open at capacity.
Dodson's Central City will open recording studios in Wonderland, while the fate of the original Clintonville location hasn't been decided, Dodson says.
Later, Brouillette encourages audience members to walk around and let Wonderland organizers know what they want to see in the building. The ideas they took away from the meeting were varied, organizers said afterward. More specific feedback is arriving via an online survey accessible at wonderlandcolumbus.com.
Over the next month or so, they'll use that feedback to draw up more detailed plans. Organizers plan to keep communication open through the website, Facebook and future public events.
Quinn says he's heard both from start-ups and Columbus retailers whose names readers would recognize but who he's not at liberty to name, plus plenty of prospective restaurateurs. Dodson's had an orchestra and a stand-up comedy troupe express interest in the stage space, in addition to the local bands he expected to hear from. Brouillette seems bowled-over by the enthusiasm.
"It's amazing the variety and the breadth of what people want to do," he said. "People also like the access to the other disciplines. You have normal painters all of a sudden dreaming about having a retail space."