Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Stopping the ethnic cleansing of Artists with a not-so-new paradigm.
About fifteen years ago, Bradenton made a daring move in re-designating a residential area consisting of 1930's bungalows in an area formerly occupied by a large hospital. The artists and other entrepeneurial visionaries fought for a rezoning of the 36 acres of the Village into a customized multiple-use designation allowing galleries, restaurants and cafes in lived-in homes.
The owners must live in the houses. They have gallery walks every First Friday and Saturday, are closed during the off-season (summer).
I look at this as having great potential in Saint Petersburg, where greedy landlords and developers are consistently pushing out artists towards the West (Gulfport) and South St. Pete, which is poised to begin a renaissance, starting with the Deuces area, 22nd and 9th S. Combination homes/businesses could work to delay the displacement of artists, as well as creating an arts district owned by artists, not landlords.
It is a relatively low-buck idea that requires little (from a city that gives little) money, and would work as a decentralized artists' enclave of sorts, not in competition with existing districts, but in addition to them. It could work as a revitalizing influence on the South Side as well.
I am not advocating replicating what they did, but learning from them what works and recontextualizing this idea into the twenty-teens.