East New York Makes Room(s) for Artists

A new project by the community arts group ARTs East New York plans to develop empty lots in the neighborhood for use by artists and entrepreneurs in search of studio or storefront space but without the resources to invest in a freestanding brick-and-mortar spot. Titled the [re]New Lots Artist Studio & Incubator Initiative, the plan will provide local artists with a location to make their work and build their brand. When fears abound about marauding developers plopping giant ugly buildings down across the borough, artists would be welcome tenants.

The spaces themselves will be repurposed 10′ by 8′ shipping containers—the mod prefab of choice for the 2010s—set up in vacant lots, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports. Artists’ studios start renting at $300 per month, while space for entrepreneurs will go for $420. Artists will be given 24/7 access to the space, which will include security.

East New York is further down the gentrification tide chart than neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and Flatbush, but it has found itself in the crosshairs of a handful of developers, who are betting on the continual eastward movement of Brooklyn’s hip set. Late last month, real estate prices in the neighborhood hit $155 per square foot, spurring uncertainty about East New York’s future in the face of the plundering creeps of Manhattan-based real estate development.

The Starbucks may be a few years off yet, but there is still reason to keep an ear to the ground in an ever-changing real estate climate. Community-driven projects like this one and others from ARTs East New York—including Mural Mile, a public art initiative, and a Young ARTist Institute for kids age 3 to 12—are exactly what keep neighborhoods vibrant, engaged, and out of the hands of self-interested real estate prospectors. ARTs East New York and other groups like it have the power to steer the culture and community of East New York, even through the encroachment of chain coffee stores.

Applications for a place in the new developments are due to [re]New Lots by November 1.

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.

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