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Kris
September 10th, 2003, 09:12 AM
September 10, 2003

Cultural Center in Brooklyn Will Bear Name of Slain Councilman

By MICHAEL BRICK

A new center for arts, media and cultural groups associated with the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be named after the slain Councilman James E. Davis, officials responsible for the project said yesterday.

A groundbreaking of sorts is scheduled for today on the project, a $6 million renovation of an eight-story building in Fort Greene that was once owned by the state but has been vacant for a decade.

The start of the renovation work at 80 Hanson Place is the first manifestation of a cultural district envisioned for downtown Brooklyn by Harvey Lichtenstein, the longtime head of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the current chairman of the BAM Local Development Corporation, which is overseeing the project.

"This is the first major project," Mr. Lichtenstein said. "This district, we hope, will be a place where the arts can coalesce."

Financing for the renovation comes primarily from the city, which contributed $5 million, including $2.3 million originated by the City Council, said Jeanne Lutfy, the president of the BAM Local Development Corporation. The other $1 million comes from the state.

"James Davis was a very important advocate in making sure that money was there for us," she said.

Mr. Davis once served on the Council's Cultural Affairs Committee. He was stripped of that post several months before his assassination in City Hall, and he threatened to sue the Council speaker, Gifford Miller, for reinstatement. Explaining the value of the post, he cited, in part, the location of cultural institutions like the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the district that he represented.

For Mr. Davis, or any Fort Greene politician, rallying behind such a project required an expenditure of political capital. The neighborhood has gentrified rapidly in recent years, and community organizations have formed to assert that longtime residents will be pushed out by rising rents and will never enjoy the benefits of a cultural center.

Naming the building after Mr. Davis is "sort of a feel-good move," said David Vine, a member of Fort Greene Together, adding that using the name of a slain local hero is likely to garner additional support for the project.

The project itself, Mr. Vine said, "won't benefit most of the members of the community."

In a prepared statement, Thelma Davis, the mother of James Davis, praised the decision to use his name.

"James was an ardent arts advocate," she said. "The Davis family is honored by this concrete commitment to his legacy and vision."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

billyblancoNYC
September 10th, 2003, 09:45 AM
This district is one of the most exciting efforts in NYC right now, in my opinion. The arts are so important, this will create a mecca, of sorts, for all types of arts for NYC and the world. Excellent to see some progression.

Clarknt67
January 6th, 2004, 01:56 PM
This district is one of the most exciting efforts in NYC right now, in my opinion. The arts are so important, this will create a mecca, of sorts, for all types of arts for NYC and the world. Excellent to see some progression.

Hopefully there will an effort to provide affordable housing in the area as the "artists" be they dancers, painter, opera singers, won't be able to pay market rate for the apartments. I can't imagine the area taking off if the only place the talent pool can live is Inwood or Long Island.

Ninjahedge
January 6th, 2004, 02:33 PM
The only way it will work is setting up a commune like a dormitory complex with certain rules (like maximum occupancy, etc). A place where these guys would have a place to sleep (and do other things) at night, but also access to studio space and different things that they can use to produce what they need.

But there has to be some way to make them feel like this is THEIR responsibility to take care of. You put a bunch of people in a place that they don't feel is theirs, hell even if they DO feel that and you stick them in there, there will be some that abuse the studios and ruin the common areas for everyone...

Any ideas?

Clarknt67
January 7th, 2004, 08:20 PM
The only way it will work is setting up a commune like a dormitory complex with certain rules (like maximum occupancy, etc). A place where these guys would have a place to sleep (and do other things) at night, but also access to studio space and different things that they can use to produce what they need.

But there has to be some way to make them feel like this is THEIR responsibility to take care of. You put a bunch of people in a place that they don't feel is theirs, hell even if they DO feel that and you stick them in there, there will be some that abuse the studios and ruin the common areas for everyone...

Any ideas?

There are lots of other solutions, from subsidized houseing, to rent-stabilization, to recognizing squatter's rights. Those are just programs that exist, no laws are written that new programs couldn't be created.