Thursday, March 6, 2008

Value Added

The photos here show a couple of buildings in the Old Allentown Historic District, in the vicinity of Tenth and Turner Streets. The first four are of "the Ice Cream Factory"--which is what it was originally--at Turner and Howard. It's two stories, 220 feet long, and has been unoccupied for years. The last photo shows a four-story loft building a half-block from the Ice Cream Factory. It was originally a typewriter factory, and has a history of occupation by artists. Northlight Loft, a group that sponsored performances and exhibitions, used the first floor until a couple of years ago before the city closed them down due to code violations the landlord refused to address. Today it's zoned residential, and a commercial photographer lives and works on the top floor. I point them out because of an article, in today's New York Times, about arts development in Brooklyn.
"Some 1,000 artists and arts organizations are now working in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, courtesy of the developers David Walentas and his son, Jed, partners in Two Trees Management. Operating on the principle that cultural ferment makes a neighborhood hot, Two Trees has offered creative people rents that they cannot refuse.
"It adds value to any neighborhood," David Walentas said..."it's like good architecture. Good architecture is cheap and adds value. People will pay a premium for it."
Little by little, some developers in Allentown are catching on to the idea that making room for the arts can add value to their projects. It can even earn them some free advertising. We certainly have a lot of former industrial buildings, like the ones shown here, with the potential to become exciting creative spaces. Some building owners in Allentown have already taken the plunge. I'll tell you about one of them in an upcoming post.

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