Colonizing Cermak

Alby Gallun from Crain’s reports on a potential “creative industries” focus for the heroic loft buildings of the Cermak Bridge landmark district:

Yet the property’s prospects are brightening as city officials consider a proposal that could fill Mr. Mumford’s buildings with a new class of tenants: graphic design firms, fashion designers, dance companies and other artsy businesses. The plan would turn the gritty neighborhood into a “creative industries district,” potentially employing as many as 1,600 people.

They also provide the full PDF report, from ULI’s panel.

Interesting follow-on by David Gonzalez in this an NYT piece:

Such is the New York factory in the 21st century. The smokestacks are gone, taking jobs (and pollution, sometimes) to places where hands are cheap. But according to advocates for industrial development in the city, newer specialty companies like Mr. Horgan’s occupy a growing part of the city’s industrial landscape, along with makers of food products, especially for the burgeoning ethnic market. Many other firms that make construction materials, furniture or lighting have also grown in response to increased demand for environmentally friendly buildings.

“The most important thing we found was the need for more and smaller industrial spaces,” said Adam Friedman, executive director of the New York Industrial Retention Network, which assists manufacturers with space and advice. “Big guys like Farberware and Swingline left the city. What survived here are the niche manufacturers where proximity to their market makes a big difference…”

“We’re thinking of a trust for industrial space,” [Ron Shiffman, a veteran planner and chairman of the Industrial Retention Network] said. “The same way we realized we have to save small farms, I believe we are going to need to save places for manufacturing in urban areas.”

…which reminds me of an idea that I had, to buy development easements from artist-studio buildings so that they can remain artist studios in private hands, not to be resold for other purposes and without the public necessarily buying the building or land. (A land trust could work the same way, but sounds more expensive.) I’m not sure exactly how this works — perhaps just through a standing purchase option? — but it’s an interesting thought.