Delray Beach: Foreclosure threatens Artists Alley; city ponders action

By Tim Pallesen

    Delray Beach might lose Artists Alley, the unique arts district that the mayor says “has been so important for the renaissance of this city.”
    Artists work in warehouse studios along the railroad tracks near Pineapple Grove. But the warehouses will be sold at a Feb. 23 foreclosure auction.
    The artists, fearing that a new owner will bulldoze their studios, have pleaded with the city for help.
    Mayor Cary Glickstein accepted the challenge at a Nov. 13 workshop, but the city can’t stop the auction.
    “We may get lucky with someone at the foreclosure who likes the property as it is,” Glickstein told commissioners. “But it is incumbent on us not to leave it to chance.”
    Glickstein is exploring whether the city and its Community Redevelopment Agency could be one of the bidders at the foreclosure auction. The CRA is already spending $3.5 million in improvements for the arts district.
    The property’s $4.2 million appraised value concerned Commissioner Jordana Jarjura. “There are a lot of things we would like to do, but I don’t know if we have enough money,” she said.
    “We have the capacity to borrow,” Glickstein replied, suggesting that the city could acquire the property, impose deed restrictions to preserve it as an arts district, and then resell it.
    As the city struggles to find a solution, the news that Artists Alley might be demolished has caused alarm in the arts community.
    “Artists Alley is an enormous asset to Delray Beach and the county,” said Marilyn Bauer, marketing director for the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
    “Artists come together in this great place to make art and welcome the community in to see it,” Bauer said. “To lose this would be a terrible shame.”
    The city’s new planning and zoning director, Dana Little, joined the concern after his first visit to observe the artists at work.
    “Frankly, I was blown away,” Little reported back to commissioners. “It’s an extraordinary array of different artists. The quality of their work is just stunning.”
    Glickstein met with the artists again on Nov. 26.
    “We’re going to make it work some way, somehow,” the mayor assured them before Thanksgiving.

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