Push on to transform abandoned LRT space into underground arts district

Edmonton's arts scene will have a new, underground home inside the Bay Enterprise Square LRT station, if Bradley Biamonte has his way.

'Eeerie space' inside Bay Enterprise Square station has stood vacant since 1983

Arts enthusiast Bradley Biamonte is pushing for an underground arts district to be constructed in a long-abandoned space underneath the Enterprise Square LRT station. (Michael Chu)

Edmonton's arts scene will have a new, underground home inside the Bay Enterprise Square LRT station, if arts enthusiast Bradley Biamonte has his way.

The station's retail bays, located beneath Jasper Avenue, have stood vacant for more than 30 years, and Biamonte would like to see them transformed into artist studios and gallery space.

"It's quite a large, and quite an eerie space. I find it really disconcerting when I walk through there," said Biamonte during a Monday morning interview with Edmonton AM radio show host Mark Connolly.

"You couldn't find a more dead space in Edmonton. It would bring that space alive."

With only minimal investment, Biamonte said more than 30 studios could be carved out of the retail bays, creating a community hub in a space that has sat stubbornly unused since 1983.

"Once artists show and do their thing, it creates a vibe. People will show up because of the vibe, and once you have people and artists in there, businesses usually follow," Biamonte said.

"But in the meantime you would have what I like to call "Edmonton's underground arts scene."

Biamonte has been pitching the idea to city council, transit officials, the Edmonton Arts Council and some prominent artists for the last couple of years, but has struggled to make any progress.

He hopes the idea will gain traction with the ongoing revitalization of downtown.

"We keep talking about the Arts District, but it's such a formal arts district. This would be an informal space for budding artists, the kind of artists who are messy and really interesting."

What do you think? Should the Bay Enterprise Square mall area be converted into artist studios? Let us know in the comments below.