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2005 10 20
Temp Space

The arrival of the condo sales centre is the culmination of a familiar pattern. Artists move to marginal industrial areas due to available space and affordability. Galleries open as venues for neighbourhood artists. The area becomes the new 'It' spot. Cafés and restaurants open to take advantage of the cache. Push gentrification button. Developers buy and renovate the spaces used by artists. Artists, no longer able to afford gentrified rents, move out. Loss of artistic community ensues. Does it have to be that way? Why can't 1% of a residential project go towards creating an artist in residence program? For the Ritz-Carlton development alone that would be $3 million. Perhaps the sales centre could be moved off site, or off-site centres could be left standing and become the studio space to an artist or even a gallery?

Watching the demolition of a sales centre made me wonder if such a building could be salvaged and moved to cottage country or sold and re-used elsewhere (other than as salvageable steel). In pre-confederation Newfoundland, people often thought of their property and homes as separate. You could buy a house, tow it away and put in your own yard. During the ominous sounding "centralization" of outport towns, families like my father's moved to larger communities with a promise of better schooling and health care and were given cash (shockingly small amounts by any standards) to help them do so. Move they did. By lifting their homes onto rafts of empty oil barrels, rolling them down the slipway and into the harbour, houses were floated to new towns with antiseptic names such as Centreville.

Perhaps we could do the same with all those left over sales centres. With a little planning, sales centres could be designed from pre-fab components for ease of disassembly and relocation. We could float them throughout the city as in-fill projects and convert them to live/work residences (ironically, as many lofts are marketed as "live/work") or gallery spaces. Sure the bathrooms may have to be hooked up, or fake books unglued from the shelves, but it seems like an opportunity waiting to happen. Think of it as a chance for the city to re-diversify now gentrified neighbourhoods.
[email this story] Posted by P. Rogers on 10/20 at 05:17 AM

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