Roosevelt Row Selected for National ArtPlace Grant that Will Fund a New Streetscape, an Artist Village, and More

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This morning, the hardworking folks behind First Fridays, Third Fridays, Adaptive Re-Use of Temporary Space (A.R.T.S) Program, and a majority of the activity on Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix received some very good, six-digit news.

Late last year, Roosevelt Row's Greg Esser, Kenny Barrett, and Braden Kay wrote and submitted the application for a grant through Artplace, an organization formed and funded by eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts and six of the nation's largest banks.

This morning, they were awarded a $150,000 grant, categorized as "Using Art to Accelerate Transit Oriented Development," that will go toward funding three major programs on Roosevelt Row, including a streetscape project in collaboration with the city of Phoenix, a "Feast on the Street," and an evolving artist village.

Cindy Dach, acting director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, says the artist village will be similar to Dekalb Market in New York City, where shipping containers have been retrofitted into retail spots, but she notes the Roosevelt Row focus will be heavier on artist studios, performance spaces, and pop-up shops, with space for a new urban market garden.

Dach says the grant money will be accessible immediately and that the neighborhood can expect to see the beginning of the projects within the next few months and the artist village up and running within a year. The project also includes hiring a design team to create an overall vision for the development of the area and streetscape guidelines to unify the district.

Roosevelt Street has been at the center of what's now downtown since the 1940s. In the '70s, the area was re-zoned as a high-rise incentive district, which stunted growth of the neighborhood, and as residents and businesses moved out, the value of the area plummeted.

Boarded-up buildings and vacant houses became attractive to artists, and thanks to a small number who have stuck around and "rolled up their sleeves," as Dach says, the area has thrived as an arts district with galleries, studios, and retail spots throughout the neighborhood.

Forty-seven projects around the country were awarded grants totaling $15.4 million from ArtPlace specifically "to support their use of the arts to improve quality of place and transform their communities."

ArtPlace members gauge progress and impact of the grant in September.

Stay tuned for developments ...

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