An artist, a developer, a theater technical director, and a coffee house founder have joined forces to buy the historic building at the corner of First Avenue and Cherry Street, and they're turning it into an arts center called Good Arts.
In 2016, it will become home to a commercial gallery and "adjacent workspaces in one of the currently vacant storefronts, and a pocket craft retail space to be added to the second-floor lobby," according to the press release sent out by artist Jane Richlovsky, one of the four partners. "In late 2016, construction will begin on Cherry Street Public House in the corner and two adjacent storefronts."
The four entities behind Good Arts LLC are Greg Smith of Urban Visions Real Estate; Steve Coulter, ACT Theatre Technical Director; Cherry Good Arts LLC, headed by Cherry Street Coffee House founder Ali Ghambari; and Richlovsky, who founded '57 Biscayne on the second floor of the building after being kicked out of 619 Western when the state condemned that artists'-space Pioneer Square building in 2011.
In 2014, I interviewed Richlovsky about the closure of 619 Western, which many artists had decried, and she sounded an entirely different note. I wrote,
The government gave Richlovsky tens of thousands of dollars to cover the construction of the '57 Biscayne artist colony inside an existing building [Scheuerman Block]. She rents studios for $1.60 to $1.75 per square foot, which isn't as cheap as 619 Western was, but it's reasonable, because she was able to negotiate with the landlord using the state's construction money.
"Anybody who made a big drama about the Department of Transportation kicking us out was full of shit, because they actually saved our asses," Richlovsky says. For-profit developers offer no assistance. "If you act like a grown-up and say you have a business, there are all these resources to tap into, so I did that. Now I have a real lease, not a we-could-be-kicked-out-anytime lease." She subleases to the artists and has two more years on the original lease, with two five-year options to renew.
Now, with Good Arts, it looks like that long-term lease plan became even better for Richlovsky—a part-ownership situation.
Long-term, the basement of Good Arts will be restored "to its historic role as a performance space." Hence the involvement of ACT's Technical Director, one assumes. (Richlovsky was not immediately available for comment, but I'll write more as the building develops.) "The Skid Road Show operated there from 1972-1982, a jazz club during the 1940s, as well as less reputable enterprises (which the owners do not intend to revive). They will retain the second floor as affordable workspaces for artists and create additional ones as space becomes available elsewhere in the building."
Since when is art so reputable? Sheesh, I hope Good Arts won't be too "good." Either way, good news! And now you have yet another reason to frequent the great Cherry Street Coffee in all its locations.