West Street Arts District Proposed
Today's Capital discusses a proposal by the Mayor to create an arts and entertainment overlay zone along the West Street corridor, from Monticello Avenue to Chinquapin Round Road. If created, the district would exempt arts venues from local amusement and admission taxes, and would provide tax breaks to developers building affordable spaces for artists to live and work in.
The idea is certainly one worth considering, but more importantly, this is one of the early volleys in the upcoming battle for the future of West Street. The first, arguably, having been the conversion of the Johnson Lumber site to the mixed use 1901 West St complex.
Now, the area between West Gate Circle and Chinquapin Round Road is largely comprised of eyesores: dumpy retail, car dealerships, and more car dealerships. There are some residential and formerly residential commercial (e.g., law offices) units along the stretch as well.
The biggest challenge is going to be to get the Hyundai, Scion/Toyota, Acura, Honda, Dodge, and Jeep dealerships to trade their prime pavement for the opportunity to cash in on loft condos. This zoning change, perhaps, represents an opportunity to make the economics of such a move a bit more favorable for developers.
It's a shift that is going to draw the ire of some, but because of its location and proximity to infrastructure, is likely to occur in time, with or without the tax breaks.