East Village is growing at a blistering pace.
Nearly 30 projects are planned or under construction in the neighborhood, some of which are part of a district that developers have imagined as a home for innovation, design, education and arts.
That’s why they’re calling it the IDEA District. Yet many of the new projects there are displacing all the elements it’s meant to embody. The art scene that’s survived for years in the neighborhood’s affordable warehouses is on its way out.
Developers David Malmuth and Pete Garcia, the architects of the IDEA District plan, imagine it as an urban center filled with housing, innovative tech and design jobs and educational institutions. The district’s workers and residents, according to the plan, will be “enriched by the arts.”
But there’s nothing official about the lofty goals of the IDEA District. They are not codified anywhere within the city’s development regulations. The district is not mentioned anywhere in the city’s official plan for downtown and East Village. It’s just a concept created by some private developers, which other developers can either adopt or ignore.
There are 13 active projects in the IDEA District, but only one is subject to the city’s policy that requires developers pay 1 percent of project costs on art or cultural space in their buildings. The policy applies mostly to office buildings, and there just isn’t much office space being built in the neighborhood.
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I don't share Ms. Pennington's opinion that real estate housing developers can't ignore the arts. Show them how building artist studios, galleries or other non-residential spaces pencils out to be more profitable than residential units. Plus, the City openly pushes housing unit counts. Attendance at an art ball or the popularity of a temporary DIY parklet are ephemeral things. Should've put teeth into the community plan with something like a community plan amendment that calls for artist live-work units, gallery spaces and public plazas like at the Wynood Walls project in Miami. http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com/