City May Give Artists Free Space in Unrented Staten Island Buildings, Including the Ferry Terminal


We knew Staten Island commercial real estate was in bad shape, but this is still jarring: the Advance reports that some Island properties managed by the Economic Development Corp — including the St. George Ferry Terminal and Richmond County Bank Ballpark — may be giving free space to artists. The city will take RFPs from arts organizations to oversee a program to show artworks in the buildings. The paper takes this as a “possible sign that the city has given up, at least for now, on renting those spaces to paying tenants.”

This seems odd to us — as recently as September 20, Crain’s was saying that “retailers are finally beginning to snap up space” at the terminal, including Island Pretzel and Statue of Liberty Deli. “The terminal is finally coming together after all these years,” Borough President James Molinaro told Crain’s.

Maybe the city is thinking instant gentrification. Impoverished artists are known advance people for real estate development, and Bloomberg et alia may hope that making galleries out of moribund retail spaces will turn the North Shore into the new Lower East Side.

A harbinger of this idea may be seen in the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island fundraiser to be held Friday in the New York Container Terminal, for which Archicorp has designed a “giant, temporary 10-gallery complex made of wooden construction pallets,” to be filled with artworks like the one pictured.

The artists, the Advance explains, “are working without remuneration (although all are invited to attend at a generous discount).”