Trunk Space Prepares For One Final Show After Landlord-Tenant Disagreements

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The DIY venue Trunk Space, which has set up shop in a quirky, oddly shaped space at 1506 Grand Avenue for 12 years, is hosting its final show this Saturday, May 7. 

It's the end of an era for Steph Carrico, who conceived the venue with partner JRC in 2004. But shuttering the doors of 1506 doesn't mean the venue's days are done. There are plans for many changes to Trunk Space's structure, Carrico tells New Times, including turning the venue into a nonprofit and finding a new space.

"My hope — nothing is set — is that we go dark for a couple months, and then in the fall we pop back up permanently," Carrico says. "With the nonprofit status, it’s just a much more sustainable way."

Carrico regrets seeing the end of the Trunk Space's current incarnation, but she's hopeful the upcoming changes will be positive ones. 

"I’m sad that it’s leaving its current location but I’m excited for the future," she says. "Good things are on the way. It’s a growing phase for Trunk Space."

Since the February announcement of Trunk Space's impending departure, there has been much speculation as to why the Trunk Space would leave. The venue's absence will leave yet another hole on the frequently changing Grand Avenue landscape, which in recent years has seen the departure of several longtime businesses (e.g. Bragg's Factory Diner and Creation Station). 

Carrico says despite their long tenure, Grand Avenue just didn't feel like home anymore.

"With Grand Avenue sort of growing up and changing, we were just getting a lot of pressure from the outside, pressure that we’ve never felt," Carrico says. "The neighborhood's changing, and we make a bunch of noise. The new people that are moving in, that’s not what they want. It really started to feel like we weren’t welcome anymore and it wasn’t our home anymore. A chain of events happened where it really felt like time to move on."

For now, the venue will celebrate with one final show on Saturday, May 7. Jason Anderson, IHYWYP, The Dietrichs, and Fathers Day will play.
"I first saw [Jason Anderson] at the Modified when they used to do shows, and he’s just this really positive performer who’s also just an amazing musician," Carrico says. "I really really wanted Trunk Space to end on a positive note. I wanted it to be a celebration of the last 12 years, and I know that Jason will pull that off."

Carrico and company are exploring other locations for the venue, but she's keeping things developments close to the vest for now. She does say she wants the venue to stay downtown. In the interim, Trunk Space will produce pop-up shows at locations like Stinkweeds and the Phoenix Center For The Arts.  

One the reasons Carrico cites for leaving was a rent increase, which she said increased 13 percent. She says she probably could have afforded the higher rent — she notes that Moore wanted to renegotiate the lease in a way that would have the venue responsible for certain deposits that would have been an additional burden — but that it was simply a sign that it was time to move on.

"Not that we couldn’t do it [afford to stay]. I guess the short answer is that with everything else, the universe was saying it’s time to do something different," she says. 

Moore has owned the building that houses Trunk Space, beloved tiki dive bar Bikini Lounge, and multi-use space Sound and Color since 2000. She says when Trunk Space first moved into her building, she charged them $500 a month for the space, which is 1,400 square feet and includes a parking lot and a yard. She raised the rent in the early years to $700 a month. She asked Trunk Space to pay $800 a month, and Carrico opted to shutter the venue instead. 

Moore defends the rent increases as reasonable.

"I'm getting a little tired of them blaming their move out completely on a rent raise," she says. "They had not had the rent raised for nine years. I think it’s pretty unrealistic of anybody in this day and age to think they would go on for nine years without a rent increase."

The property taxes on the parcel containing Trunk Space have more than doubled since 2004, Maricopa County records show. Many landlords pass a fixed percentage of property taxes onto their tenants, Moore says, which is something she never did with the DIY venue. Now that her long-term tenants are gone, Moore plans on charging substantially more rent than the $800 a month rate she offered Carrico.

In fact, in the Craigslist listing for the space, Moore asks for $950 a month, and she makes explicit that she would prefer a restaurant over any other type of business.In fact, Moore feels a little under-appreciated by the Trunk Space crowd. 

"It’s kind of discouraging for us trying to provide affordability for people and instead of them saying 'Gosh, thanks for helping me all these years for cheap rent,' and for them to say [in the media], 'How dare you raise our rent after 12 years?' It’s just not acceptable. Honestly, we’re looking forward to the next step here."

She says the Trunk Space situation is "going to make a lot of people, including us, think twice about renting to people in the creative community because there’s going to be this expectation that you’re going to have cheap rent forever if you start out with cheap rent." 

Carrico has watched Grand Avenue change drastically since she first started Trunk Space back in 2004.

"[Grand Avenue] is definitely getting safer, which is good I think that it’s losing its grittiness. But that’s not necessarily bad," Carrico says. "Beatrice will definitely make sure that those buildings don’t get bulldozed and will continue to have their historical integrity. It’s just changing. We’re in a new era of Grand Avenue, and a little art space that makes a bunch of noise — it doesn’t feel like that’s what’s Grand wants anymore. So we’ll find a new place that does want us there." 

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