Many galleries, artists and related businesses have been leaving Chelsea and moving up to the Tribeca area.Though this has been slowly occurring over the past few years, the pace has recently picked up as prices continue to climb. This is something we have seen this before, watching it happen currently and will most likely see it repeat many times over in the future, which makes it unfortunate.
Many in the arts community help pioneer the neighborhood, bringing with them the vibe, coolness and attention to perhaps a previously overlook area. What can be done? The answer isn’t easy and will be a difficult process that artists and creatives will face.
Outside of Chelsea, we have seen similarities in Wicker Park in Chicago. Many of the galleries and artists moving away from River North to a developing area which in just several years gave rise to multi-million dollar homes, upscale boutique shopping and fine dining.
There are perhaps some artists, professionals and galleries that will be able to stay in these areas even after the prices soar. But for many, that may be unlikely. Many are now forming collectives to help pool resources together. Others move further away from the city center, and although rental prices may be more affordable, they are faced with challenges of distance and time.
Gentrification however, is not something unique to artists alone, but happening to many others as gentrification, debt, cost of living increase. As more people move into urban areas, this will inevitably increase housing and commercial costs, which in turn further financial burden. Most balance the cost of living by sacrificing other “luxury” items; public transportation in lieu of a car, biking or walking to more nearby location, shared work spaces are just some of the practices many use. For artists and other creative professionals, it will be about prioritizing what’s more vital and what could be beneficial to cost savings. A private studio or office or shared studio? Perhaps expensive materials?
Larger studio rental buildings on the fringes of key city areas seem to be one of the potential answers right now. Like an office or apartment building, these locations house sometimes hundred of studio spaces that are rented out. As the majority of residents are related to the arts, these buildings become a community and arts center. Though we have seen these locations in many major different cities – Chicago, New York, London, Miami, etc., there is real potential to pull back amenities or offerings as market value and property taxes continue to increase.
Perhaps what we need is more action from local governments and funding for art initiatives to help protect some of the early pioneers who help transform a neighborhood.