Durham County

What can be done? Alternatives to gentrification

Daniel Ellison is the owner of Durham Arts Place, which offers affordable studio space to artists at a downtown location.
Daniel Ellison is the owner of Durham Arts Place, which offers affordable studio space to artists at a downtown location. ctoth@heraldsun.com

Several organizations, non-profit and for-profit, have worked to support local artists with rent subsidies and spaces, or have plans in that direction. Here are a few.

▪  Siler City is home of the N.C. Arts Incubator. In 2002, a non-profit organization formed and later purchased two unused buildings in the city center and renovated them as subsidized artists’ spaces. The city saw the incubator as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. The incubator runs a gallery and sells pieces made by incubator artists.

▪  Durham’s Scrap Exchange, a re-use store, seeks to develop the Reuse Arts District. In 2016, Scrap Exchange purchased the northern part of Lakewood Shopping Center. The non-profit is now trying to lease spaces in the building. Organizers envision a space that will have affordable housing, artist spaces, a music studio, an architectural salvage space and more. The Scrap Exchange also seeks to show that revitalization can happen without producing gentrification.

▪  Since 1996, Dan Ellison, an attorney and arts advocate, has rented spaces below market value to artists in his Durham Arts Place on Chapel Hill Street in Durham.

▪  The new owners of the Golden Belt buildings in Durham are renovating the former Cordoba Building. Their renovations will include artist spaces and a music venue. Office space will rent in the upper $20s per square foot, while artists could pay half or 40 percent of that price, developers said.

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