Delray agency wants to save city’s ‘Artists Alley’

A Delray Beach agency doesn’t want to see the city’s popular artists’ colony close.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency board gave the green light to its attorney to inform the current owner of the warehouses the agency intends to purchase the space as a way to preserve it as affordable studios for artists.

Agency officials said there is “a window of opportunity” to make the current owner of the buildings, LNR Property LLC, an offer to purchase the space. According to the city, a recent appraisal values the property at around $3.5 million.

If the agency goes through with purchasing the space, it will need to borrow money to complete the transaction. The City Commission must approve the deal to borrow any money.

“It makes me really happy to hear,” said artist Steve Blackwood of the agency’s plans to try and buy the warehouses. “Pineapple Grove Arts District wouldn’t an arts district without Artists Alley.”

Future of celebrated arts colony in Delray Beach still uncertain

 

While Blackwood said his current studio isn’t located in one of the warehouse properties, he was one of the founding artists of Artists Alley. He helped create the area’s logo and paint the buildings.

“We really worked hard to make sure people understood the importance of the arts,” he said. “To lose that would be devastating.”

The area isn’t only a place that artists come to work. They open their work spaces to the public every third Thursday and first Friday of each month for after-hours “Arts Walks,” where folks can meet the artists, stroll the alley and appreciate art.

Part of the agency’s mission for the Pineapple Grove community is to promote it as an arts-and-culture destination for locals and tourists. Delray has been home to artists and artists colonies since the 1930s. It was once nicknamed “The Artists and Writers Colony” because it attracted many different types of artistic people.

 

The agency budgeted about $1 million in improvements on Third Avenue and Third Street and owns another empty warehouse nicknamed “The Cube,” which ultimately will become a hub where entrepreneurs and artists can work side-by-side in a creative space.

The agency purchased the Cube’s space on Northeast Third Street for $1.1 million in 2010 and plans to spend another nearly $3 million to renovate the building.

Agency officials say the ultimate goal if the agency were able to purchase the property would be to hire a property management company to oversee the area.

Then, the agency would put the site out to bid for interested developers with parameters outlining how the area must operate as a place that supports the existing arts enclave by providing affordable studio space and lofts to artists.

mgottesman@sunsentinel.com, 561-243-6544 or Twitter @marisagottesman