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Affordable Artist Enclaves

Over the last few years the commercial office market has garnered its fair share of the news led by the high-flying WeWork phenomena. What has not hit the front page until last weekend in the New York Times Real Estate Section, is the rising rents for lofts and studios that have been the home to artists. Once edgy neighborhoods or off-the-beaten-track locations where painters, potters, guitar makers and the like called home to their craft, are now “hot” neighborhoods. Alas, artist enclaves that were an important part of the urban environment are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. New York’s SoHo is one such example, where once upon a time the area thrived with creative types only to be displaced by Apple, Max Mara, Cartier and Prada, to name just a few. Most cities have their arts districts, and few are avoiding the increases in rent that cause the artists to move on. For example, it is not unusual for a New York City loft that cost the artist $1,000 month to have their rent jacked-up to $2,000, an increase most cannot afford. Perhaps like affordable housing initiatives, it would be beneficial for cities to create “affordable artist enclave zones”. It would be good for the city, good for the artists, and good for our culture.

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