Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, a popular family attraction in Gainesville, is closed indefinitely after a sprinkler incident flooded the building off Chestnut Street.
“Exhibits at INK … including the airplane and train areas have been severely damaged with flood waters reaching several inches deep throughout the neighborhood,” INK officials said Monday, Sept. 10, in a press release.
Power and water were cut to the building by Brenau University maintenance and the Gainesville Fire Department, which “worked to minimize damage and ensure safety for everyone,” INK said.
“After an initial inspection by safety officials, it was determined the flooding was caused by sprinklers that engaged due to a small fire in the pottery studio area,” the press release states.
Gainesville fire spokesman Keith Smith confirmed that a small fire at INK caused the sprinklers to activate.
“There were some combustibles that came in contact with the kiln that makes ceramics,” he said, adding that the fire is under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.
INK founder Sheri Hooper said, “This is such an unfortunate event in the life of INK. Our dreams have been challenged for the moment. However, with the help of our loving community, we will return to continue our mission to create a unique environment in which children of all ages, abilities and experiences can feel free to imagine, create and explore beyond their dreams.”
INK is housed at the Featherbone Communiversity at 999 Chestnut St., along with Brenau University’s business incubator and University of Georgia and Georgia Tech offices.
Brenau University also operates its nursing and occupational therapy programs, as well as dance classes, out of the communiversity.
Issues went beyond INK at the sprawling building off Athens Highway/U.S. 129 near West Ridge Road.
After the incident, Brenau classes were rescheduled elsewhere, Brenau spokesman Ben McDade said.
“Since our stuff is contiguous to (INK), we had to remediate the water that intruded into our area,” he said. “We do not anticipate the facility being reopened until the middle of next week, at the earliest.”
McDade could not speculate on the potential cost of the damage. He said the public can get updates on the condition of the communiversity and the space Brenau uses by visiting www.brenau.edu.
Also, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce has postponed its Small Business Resource Fair, which was set for Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the incubator.
Robert Shippey, Brenau’s associate vice president for development, said the incubator had no flooding but did sustain minor water damage.
The fair, which features vendors, a networking breakfast and a guest speaker, has been rescheduled to Sept. 25. The event will take place 7:45-10 a.m.
Reporter Joshua Silavent contributed to this report.