An influx of artists is transforming the area into a creative scene that developers can brag about
Miriam Kreinin Souccar at The Real Deal asks that very question in the June edition …
A refurbished tobacco factory in Jersey City, now home to a sprawling arts complex called Mana Contemporary with studios, exhibition spaces and museum archives, is drawing crowds and undergoing an expansion.
In the nearby Journal Square neighborhood, the city is embarking on a $30-million renovation of the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre. And a 110-year-old warehouse there is being converted into a luxury rental building with studio space and apartments set aside for working artists, one of many such buildings going up in the city.
“Our goal is to bring the creative class here,” said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.
Welcome to what could be called “the new Brooklyn.” Young Wall Streeters have been moving to Jersey City’s waterfront high-rises in search of cheaper real estate and a quick commute to Manhattan for years. But as Brooklyn continues to gentrify, artists are now flocking to Jersey City too, scooping up studio space for some 30 percent less, and in many cases, they are taking up residence there altogether.
The influx, coupled with a flurry of new cultural venues and city initiatives like street performances and studio tours, has created a major arts community that is helping to revitalize a city once riddled with vacant lots and crime.
“Jersey City is the next place where everyone is going to be moving to,” said Ray Smith, an artist whose paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Smith opened a 3,000-square-foot studio at Mana Contemporary two years ago, after Hurricane Sandy destroyed his workspace on the Gowanus Canal. He has since rebuilt in Brooklyn but plans to consolidate his operations in Jersey City in the next couple of years. He’s getting such a good deal that he declined to say how much he is paying.