Trees Owners Clint and Whitney Barlow Plan To Re-Open The 3,000-Capacity Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum.
This past Friday, Clint Barlow and his wife Whitney officially filed some paperwork at City Hall, thus shedding the final hush-hush vestiges of what’s been the worst-kept secret in Deep Ellum these past few months: The couple behind the 2009 re-opening of storied Deep Ellum venue Trees now plans on re-opening the Bomb Factory — yet another treasured spot from Deep Ellum’s shuttered musical past.
It’s big news, and rather literally at that. The Canton Street space features some 40,000 or so feet in usable square footage; the Barlows anticipate that, upon completion of their planned renovations for the space some time in the spring of 2014, the venue should boast somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 people.
For comparison’s sake: The capacity at the South Side Ballroom on Lamar Street is just a hair over 3,000 people; based on square footage alone, Barlow estimates that the Bomb Factory is about eight times the size of Trees.
In more obvious terms? The re-opened Bomb Factory will immediately become the largest venue in Deep Ellum when it opens next year. And, says Barlow, it will immediately fill a need for the neighborhood in that regard, too.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations about this,” Barlow tells Central Track. “It’s been in the works for about six months. This is something Deep Ellum needs.”
And, certainly, this kind of thing is something that the Barlows have gotten pretty darn good at, too. Trees’ re-opening has been viewed as a near-universal success; now four years past its re-opening, the venue has long established itself as a clear anchor for the Elm Street commercial stretch upon which it resides.
One imagines, too, that this expertise should do the Barlows well on their latest venture — even if, Clint promises, opening revered-but-not-forgotten Deep Ellum spaces like the Bomb Factory and Trees before it wasn’t something he or his wife ever purposefully set out to do.
“It’s mostly about the music and about Deep Ellum,” Barlow says. “But I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think [it could be supported]. I’m not just doing this to sit on the space.”
As for the space itself, Barlow says that construction remains mostly in the planning phase at this point, in large part because he only filed on Friday the specific use permit paperwork that the city must approve before he can proceed further. If all goes according to plan, Barlow hopes that construction on the space will begin by the end of 2013.
In the meantime, he offers up the following, minimal as it may sound: There will be a bar and there will be a stage. Basically, it will be a concert venue — for the most part.
“It’s going to dictate itself some, I suppose,” Barlow says. “I mean, concerts are going to be a no-brainers. But, depending on demand for other, bigger things, it all depends. A lot of times, people want to use Trees [for non-music events], but we don’t really have the space for it there.”
Even so, he maintains that the new Bomb Factory — so named because the space served as an actual bomb factory during World War II — will be “music-driven.” Also? It won’t be the same old dive-y space it once was.
“It was really just a big, empty warehouse,” Barlow says. “It didn’t have A/C, I don’t think. And, if it did, they never turned it on.”
His Bomb Factory will be more than that, Barlow says. Just how much more, though, he can’t yet say for sure.
“Nobody’s even swung a hammer yet,” Barlow says, “so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. We’re still jumping through hoops. We’re still at the infant stage. It’s all about construction at this point, and there are still a lot of things that need to be done.”
But he’s excited, he says. Not only for what the new venture means for him and his family, but for the Deep Ellum neighborhood as a whole.
“It’s just that there are a lot of shows you could put in a room like that,” Barlow says. “And you don’t want to see these shows go to somewhere like Frisco. Nothing against Frisco, of course. I like Frisco. But you know what I mean.”