ArtPrize Entry Envisions Splashy $21 Million Urban Redevelopment Project
Get ready for a splash of color.
Habitat for Humanity has turned over unoccupied properties on a two-block stretch of Grandville Avenue in Grand Rapids to the arts organization, known for its transformation of the city’s underutilized spaces into temporary art exhibitions. The Rumsey Street Project, as the initiative is being called, covers nearly three acres of land in the city’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood.
The area, which SiTE:LAB has nicknamed “Plaza Roosevelt,” is being converted into an arts center, and will host the group’s exhibitions for both the 2015 and 2016 editions of ArtPrize. Over the next two years, SiTE:LAB will also host artist residencies at the space, with a focus on artists from Latin American countries and communities.
“Plaza Roosevelt represents an innovation in the way Habitat Kent has conducted neighborhood revitalization, focusing on the holistic components—physical, service and social—of a healthy neighborhood,” Ivor Thomas, Habitat’s director of community development, told Michigan Live.
Thomas hopes that the ArtPrize competition will draw attention to the redevelopment project and help raise the necessary funds for its completion. SiTE:LAB is looking to engage the local community over the next two years, and to drive business to nearby establishments.
Since work on the project has begun, several properties have already undergone dramatic transformations. Artist Nick Kline removed the steeple from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, which closed in 2008, and created what appears like striped siding by sanding and flipping the boards on the church’s exterior. He plans to replace the steeple by the time the ArtPrize show opens.
Nearby by houses are being painted in bold hues, such as the old parish rectory, which is now inky black and completely boarded up. Another home is getting a shocking pink exterior, with a deep red on the walls inside.
SiTE:LAB is converting an old auto garage into an exhibition space for artists for the upcoming ArtPrize, painting it in a bright yellow, with a graphic black and red design created by artist Mark Dean Veca.
Following the completion the Rumsey Street Project in 2017, Habitat for Humanity will redevelop the properties for residential use. Preliminary plans include affordable condos, homes, and rentals, as well as health care and educational facilities.
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