Chandler Branch's Blog

Newcastle Project in St. Louis?

Could something like this work in downtown St. Louis? Over the last two years, a slew of empty buildings in Newcastle, Australia, have been enlivened by a group of temporary, artistically-driven tenants. Where capital improvement projects failed to revitalize and bring foot traffic, entrepreneurs with modest financial means but plenty of creative energy are getting the job done. You can read about the project here. (Thanks to ASL’s Robin Hirsch for bringing this to my attention.) Renew Newcastle is a nonprofit organization headed by Markus Wesbury, who, in the video below, discusses the impetus and impact of the project.

There are plenty of empty commercial buildings in downtown St. Louis, and no shortage of talented, driven artists. I’m told similar projects have been undertaken in the nearby suburbs. And I’m aware of two buildings in the city of St. Louis exclusively dedicated to providing affordable residential and studio space for artists, including the Leather Trades Artist Lofts at 16th and Locust. How exciting would it be to see something akin to the Newcastle endeavor take hold in the heart of the city? Seems like an idea worth exploring.

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