Owner of Former Dia Building Ousts Independent Fair and Zach Feuer

Feuer will move out in March.

Independent Art Fair
The Indpendent venue Photo: courtesy Independent.

Chelsea event venue Center548, a building located at 548 West 22nd Street that was formerly home to the Dia Art Foundation and is currently playing host to Independent Projects (see “Independent Projects Hosts a Winning Mix of Galleries“), has been sold to a new landlord, Property Markets Group, artnet News has learned. The real estate acquisition and development firm, which is based in New York, Miami, and Chicago, has asked tenants to leave. A spokesperson from Center548 confirmed that the company will leave the building at the end of June, which would make the spring 2015 Independent the last iteration of the fair to be held at the space.

Zach Feuer, whose eponymous gallery is located on the ground floor of the building, told artnet News in a phone call that the new landlord had cut short his existing lease, and that the gallery would be moving in March. He expects to announce his new location sometime in the coming month.

Built as a warehouse in 1920, 548 West 22nd Street has a history as an arts space that dates back to 1987, when the Dia Center for the Arts, later known as Dia:Chelsea, set up shop in the three-floor property. Before the building closed for renovations in 2004, it hosted site-specific works from such artists as Jenny Holzer, Robert Irwin, Robert Gober, and Ann Hamilton.

The needed repairs to the space were too costly and Dia sold the building in 2007 to T. Coll Company for $38.5 million, according to records on Streeteasy. (Dia’s current Chelsea location is just down the block at 535 West 22nd Street.) After a multimillion dollar renovation, the building reopened as Center548 in September 2010, with 35,000 square feet of open space, including a roof deck, available for hosting parties, events, trade shows, and, of course, art fairs, including the inaugural New Art Dealers Alliance outing in 2012.

Soon-to-Be Homeless Art Fairs

Both the Independent art fair and its newfangled offshoot that is a fair and an exhibition (see “Independent Becomes the Only Major Art Fair To Hold Two Editions in One City“) are held at Center548. For the past two years, the Outsider Art Fair has hosted its marquee New York event at the venue. Now, both fairs are soon-to-be homeless.

An anonymous representative of former property owners T. Coll Company confirmed to artnet News that the building had been sold in June, but declined to disclose further details. According to Streeteasy, the closing price, agreed upon on June 26, was $39.9 million. Phone calls to the in-house attorney for the new landlord, Frank Kaiman, have not yet been returned.

While someone who answered the phone at Property Markets Group told artnet News the site “will be developed in some form,” he could not relay what form that development would take. Perhaps we can look for clues to its future in another one of their Chelsea properties, the Walker Tower, the former-Verizon-building-turned-luxury-condo. Rumors are already swirling that 548 West 22nd street will be torn down to make way for condos.

Center548 and Zach Feuer are merely the latest in a string of galleries and art spaces moving out of Chelsea (see “Are Skyrocketing Taxes Running Dealers Out of Chelsea“). Among many others, the West 26th street building that houses Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, and Stephen Haller Gallery is also slated for demolition (see “The Wrecking Ball Is Coming for Three Chelsea Galleries“).

UPDATE: Center548 owner Daniel Kobin told artnet News that it is his understanding that Property Markets Group plans to expand the existing building, and in its next incarnation the old Dia home will include both commercial and residential space. Kobin’s search for a new space for Center548 has so far proved difficult. “Everyone’s gearing towards the next Google, not towards arts organizations,” he lamented. In terms of affordable spaces for the arts, he predicts, “Manhattan will soon be extinct.”

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