The New Rochelle Business Improvement District’sDowntown Artist Spaces Program helps match artists and arts businesses looking for affordable studios with property owners struggling to fill vacant upper-floor space. By working to fill these under-utilized properties, the BID is not only assisting the individuals involved in the leases, but is also helping to create a vibrant arts scene in downtown New Rochelle.
After a successful rehabilitation of 10,000 square feet at 81 Centre Street last year, the BID is now ready for phase two at 2 Division Street, where the Artist Spaces Program will help develop 7,000 square feet of vacant space into 14 new studios. The BID is also helping the owners of 2 Division Street renovate their storefronts through the BID Facade Program.
As Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the BID, has explained, promoting the arts in our community increases the diversity of activity downtown and therefore attracts more people. It’s a positive and self-reinforcing cycle for New Rochelle — by activating vacant space, we strengthen the downtown real estate market, and by attracting artists to New Rochelle, we enhance the city’s cultural vitality and overall economic health.
The BID has secured limited funds for matching grants from the New York State Main Street Program in order to help finance the renovations and keep rents affordable for artists. The first studios at 2 Division should be ready for new occupants this summer.
While discussions about economic development often focus on large projects, smaller businesses are critical to our local economy and help define the general character of downtown New Rochelle. Restoring historic facades, providing attracting signage and otherwise enhancing the appearance of our central business district are more than cosmetic priorities … they help make downtown New Rochelle more appealing to shoppers and investors.
That’s why the Facade Improvement Program from the New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) has been so valuable. Since launching this initiative, the BID has attracted about $650,000 in grants. The funding has been directly applied to rehabilitating about 75 storefronts, with additional storefronts on the way, and has helped leverage at least $2.5 million more in private investment. This effort has also been linked to the Artists Spaces program, which markets vacant upper floor space for artists studios at affordable rents.
To help expand the program and achieve a broader renewal of our downtown’s physical appearance, the City Council is working with the BID to secure an additional $500,000 grant from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation. New Rochelle has proven that it can utilize grants efficiently and effectively to advance the public interest, and that should enhance the prospects for this latest application.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, at both the national and local levels. Especially in this challenging environment, we all have an interest in supporting small businesses and helping them succeed. And if sensible, cost-saving measures that improve a business’ bottom line also have environmental benefits, so much the better.
The New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) is an important City partner for promoting downtown commerce and organizing cultural events that attract people to our central business district. And the BID is at it again with their second Windows on Art project, unfolding over the next two months at 306 Huguenot Street opposite Trinity Church.
New Rochelle High School art teachers Alexandra Rutsch Brock and Scott Seaboldt are creating dueling arts installations just inside 306 Huguenot’s substantial windows. You’re invited to watch them work side by side through April every Wednesday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, or view their works in progress, day or night, the next time you’re downtown.
The BID’s Windows on Art Program builds on a recent City law meant to encourage downtown property owners with vacant storefronts to decorate their windows and showcase local artists. Last year’s “Windows on Art — 249” is still on view at 249 North Avenue.
The New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) has played an invaluable role in promoting downtown commerce. Among many other things, the BID organizes cultural and family gatherings to attract people to the central business district. The latest example was a New Year’s Eve celebration at New Roc City, featuring music, arts & crafts, magicians, and more — even a balloon drop at noon. Check out the video above to get a little more of the event’s flavor.