High Rents Drive Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space to the Motor City

 

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Galapagos entrance, DUMBO Brooklyn. photo courtesy Galapagos

The unfortunate urban rule holds that wherever artists, performers and art venues go, real estate developers and investors soon follow, sparking  escalating rents and making the area quickly unaffordable for the creative types who brought attention to the neighborhood in the first place.  Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO, a favorite neighborhood watering hole for artists and performers, is just the latest victim of the pattern. A high-profile bar and venue for experimental music, theater and art, Galapagos helped put Brooklyn’s now-trendy Williamsburg neighborhood on the map when it opened there in 1995. As rent and expenses soared there, Galapagos relocated to the  DUMBO area of Brooklyn in 2007.

Now, as DUMBO becomes increasingly gentrified and expensive, Galapagos has had more trouble making ends meet, and is once again being forced to relocate. As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, the venue will now flee New York City altogether and set up a new post in Detroit. It’s final New York City performances and programs are currently slated for Dec. 18. “A white-hot real estate market is burning through the affordable cultural habitat,” Robert Elmes, Galapagos executive director told the Times. “And it’s no longer a crisis, it’s a conclusion.”

Elmes, and his wife Phillipa Kaye, have refocused their attention on Detroit’s depressed real estate situation, and will, in effect, become developers themselves. The couple recently bought nine buildings in Detroit’s Corktown and Highand Park neighborhoods, totaling 600,000 square feet.  They are considering a disused power plant, alla Tate Modern, as the new home for Galapagos. If the project goes according to plan, the new Galapagos is sure to to bring a lot of up-beat, welcome energy and art-world focus to the economically downtrodden Motor City.


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