Locals have longed for an arts district in Atlantic City for some time, now it may finally happen as the state's CRDA is funding a study for an arts district in the resort.
According to a published report in Atlantic City's daily newspaper on Wednesday, Dec. 22, the state's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) hopes that a part of Atlantic City will be transformed into a hip little bohemian village ala New Hope, Pa., or even Greenwhich Village in Manhattan.
The funding entity also believes that the plan works well with the state's plan for a new tourism district in the city.
"We think this plan very much complements goals of proposed legislation by improving safety and expanding visitor venues in Atlantic City," CRDA COO Susan Ney Thompson told a reporter.
According to the published article, the CRDA board voted Tuesday to spend $70,000 to fund a study to create a "neighborhood-strategy area," that would effect dozens of city blocks from the bay to the ocean (bordered by Boardwalk and Baltic, Florida and South Carolina avenues).
The arts and medical education districts proposed are exactly what the city needs, according to CRDA officials. And many of the city's (and regional) residents, as well as shop owners feel the same.
"We need to look and see what we can offer, build on our strengths," said Thompson.
Ironically, the city has had bustling and vibrant art-centric scenes in the past. Watch Boardwalk Empire and one can sense the room there was at the time for artists of all kinds in the resort.
In fact, Jim Penland, of the Ocean City Arts League, founded the (now closed) Atlantic City Art Center on Garden Pier after moving to New Jersey decades ago from Florida. His official bio states that he initially "opened the Penland School of the Arts in Atlantic City where he also worked as a Boardwalk portrait artist. Seeing a need for the arts in the area, Jim and a group of other devoted artists, formed a gallery. This association lead to the formation of The Atlantic City Art Center on Garden Pier. A masquerade ball attended by over 1,400 people cemented the Art Center as a vital component of the Atlantic City scene that is still going strong today."
Other Atlantic City residents, shop owners and even club owners have been excited about talk of an arts district for a while.
Mike Hoebler, a local musician and founder of Lifedrums, (as well as a past Top 40 Under 40 honoree) says local artists of all stripes want this arts district to happen and offer opportunities for local artists to share their work.
"There are not a lot of places to play locally," says Hoebler, who plays drums and percussion with several local bands. "An arts district would be fantastic for artists and would hearken back to the past of the city."
Others Atlantic City Weekly spoke to — such as Dave Pena, owner of Boogie Nights at Resorts and co-owner of Planet Rose at the Tropicana Quarter; Mike Hauke, owner of Tony Boloney's in the Inlet area; and Carmen Marotta, of Tony Mart's Presents concert events and a long-time fixture in the region's live music scene — agree that it's the best thing the city can do right now.
"I've heard about this arts district for a while and people talking about it," says Hauke. "And just from a small business perspective it's good news to my ears because it opens up opportunities for small businesses and aims to strengthen the Atlantic City brand.
"There are so many ideas that I have alone, that could benefit the city," adds Hauke. "But right now economically these ideas are just not feasible. I've been talking with a bunch of people from the local business community — including Joe Molineaux of Stockton College’s Small Business Development Center — and they agree that such an arts district would be great for the city and that small-business owners should get together — people with the same mind set to do good for the city and strengthen its entertainment and shopping and even dining options and make them more attractive to students and [bring more culture to the city]. Whether it's a cool taqueria, clothing boutiques, coffee shops with cool exclusive performances, art galleries — it has to be done right to attract people from New York City and Philadelphia as well as Stockton students.
"My friend Greg is soon bringing a skate shop to the city, sort of more than just a skate shop, a skate lifestyle shop, which will offer people one more thing to do in the city, and be engaged enough to consider a longer stay. This is what we should work towards.
"I think local people with same mind set should get together to restore old buildings, beautify the city, and work as a team of entrepreneurs to help each other become more successful as the city becomes a more desirable place to stay and for a longer period of time."
Pena says the CRDA's "idea of adding an arts and education district to Atlantic City is an awesome idea!"
He adds: "It's so important for Atlantic City to add layers and depth to the city's landscape. This is what major cities do! They create districts [or zones] that locals and tourists gravitate towards. They create pockets of energy and pride in neighborhoods. The ideal situation for any city is to create a place were people want to live, work, learn, and enjoy their surroundings. That in return will make the Atlantic City arts and education district a must-see destination for visitors and tourists. It will help all small local businesses first survive, and then thrive! Imagine a new section of Atlantic City with art galleries, theaters, schools, dorms, apartments, restaurants, new businesses. I can already ready see what it looks like in my mind's eye. And if you can see it there, it can happen. I can't wait!"
Geoff Rosenberger is an Atlantic City resident, business entrepreneur, developer and self-proclaimed "dream-weaver." He plans to open a gay bar off the Boardwalk in 2011. He believes the city needs to change and go back to its roots, and sees a "bohemian arts district," along with the development of international youth hostels, creating more festivals and parties-till-dawn throughout the city, as well as numerous other creative ideas, as something Atlantic City needs to get out of the rut it's been currently in.
"A bohemian arts district with galleries, studios, live music, lofts and plenty of bohemians," is what is needed, says Rosenberger. "Let's be the first American city with coffee shops selling legalized pot, like Amsterdam. You can’t regulate what people want, only how it is delivered and taxed. Think of our own free flowing liquor during Prohibition. Atlantic City is all about escaping life's confinements and restrictions."
According to Wednesday's report, the arts district proposed by the CRDA: "would center on Mississippi Avenue, home to Boardwalk Hall and Dante Hall Center for the Performing Arts. The zone will include housing for artists, AtlantiCare employees, and casino and other hospitality-industry workers. The CRDA intends to transform existing buildings into new, high-density residential complexes that would also cater to local college students at expanded medical education programs planned for the area. The complexes should also appeal to others who simply want to live in the urban setting the CRDA envisions: one that puts housing, open public spaces and retail, artistic, entertainment and other commercial venues within walking distance of one another, said Jeremy Sunkett, director of project management."
According to the article, Atlantic Cape Community College will move its esteemed culinary school program to Atlantic City, and will expand its healthcare and nursing programs at its Atlantic City campus on Bacharach Avenue. Both will certainly bring more students to the city.
And they need places that students like to go — book shops, coffee shops, record stores, funky dining venues.
Additionally, as part of the CRDA proposal, creating housing and more programs for medical students in Atlantic City — a city, by the way, that was way ahead of its time in terms of international residency and humanities in medicine programs, according to legendary local doctor Victor Bressler, who was born at Atlantic City Hospital more than 80 years ago, had a practice in the area for decades and has taught countless residents at AtlantiCare Medical Center (Atlantic City Hospital's current name).
The report also states that plans also include keeping costs down for qualifying artists through a specific program with regard to loft space and housing. The details have not been established yet.
The first production by Dante Hall’s in-house production group, Ninth Circle Players, 'Italian American Reconciliation,' is a comic folktale that explores the dynamics of male and female relationships.
“We really [see the skatepark] as an opportunity [to complement] all of the other non-gaming kinds of activities that we want to support,” says Palmieri. “And we own a few parcels and this one we thought would be a potentially very good location.”
Wheels have been in motion for quite a while regarding Atlantic City’s vision of creating an arts district, and a stronger presence in town for such cultured pursuits as painting and sculpture, theater and dancing, classical music and more.
"I think that the casino [environment] is an art unto itself, with the lights and the movement, the energy. I think that affects my art, [similar to] the way cities influenced jazz. I think that compression — the mesh of people — that sort of thing brings out art within you."
The new Web site includes a survey form that invites feedback from stakeholders on the approach of the Master Plan to address immediate, mid-term and long-term actions, and to identify key factors, priorities and areas of improvement that should be addressed.
In Frank Quigley's world, an Invisible robot protects us all. His arch nemesis, Rock Man, is constantly threatening the world. It's what super villains do.
ATLANTIC CITY — John Palmieri, the new head of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, comes to Atlantic City like no other executive director of the authority ever has. Palmieri, who was head of the Boston Redevelopment Authority from 2007 up until earlier this year, and has headed redevelopment and economic development in other cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; and Hartford, Connecticut, certainly has the qualifications and background for the job. But so have other CRDA directors. What’s different is the CRDA he’ll be heading. Never in the authority’s history has the role of the CRDA been so large. An agency created to build housing in Atlantic City and...
Further, as Atlantic City Weekly has learned earlier this week that two key associates at the CRDA who were spearheading an Arts District campaign for Mississippi Avenue in the Ducktown neighborhood of the resort, are both no longer with the CRDA,
The funds will be used to acquire real estate that CRDA feels is strategically important to the redevelopment of Downtown Atlantic City.
Renovated housing attracts better tenants, which attracts more renovations in the neighborhood. By fixing what we have already, we can immediately put local people to work without the politics of the unions and commercial construction or out of town development interests.
Flanked by several paintings by local artists, Richard Stockton College president Herman Saatkamp warmed up a crowd of over 100 regional artists of various disciplines, intellectuals and public figures on Tuesday night, June 28, at Dante Hall for a presentation by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). The evening marked the next step in creating an arts and cultural district in Atlantic City.
Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson perform July 11 for free in the summer Monday night music series at Kennedy Plaza.
One may wonder at the neighbor who spends all night working out of a 16-foot box truck. But that’s exactly what local sculptor and mixed-media artist Lennox Warner has had to do at times, in order to complete his work. ...
We, as children of the world, must remember we’re all connected to the same roots, the same god, the same universal energy regardless of doctrine, or lack of one.
“This is an important time in Atlantic City’s development and future history as planning and oversight is joined with New Jersey and the CRDA. It’s important that we do what we can to shine in our own right.”
By Ray Schweibert � Thank the casinos and local restaurants for bringing in the tourists to our region. Thank the developers of recent projects like The Walk and The Quarter for boosting Atlantic City's image, repositioning the formerly "summer-only" resort into a year-round destination, and much more than just a place to gamble. While you're handing out praise, save a few pats on the back for the South Jersey Cultural Alliance (SJCA), a non-profit organization that for nearly 15 years has been working diligently to strengthen the region's evolving arts and cultural community and get the word out about what -- other than casinos and beautiful beaches -- our South Jersey region has to offer. Cynthia Lambert, the SJCA's executive director, believes that the variety of local cultural attractions in the tri-county region -- be it a museum, a performance space or an annual summer concert series -- plays an important part in getting more tourists, some of whom seek more than a casino show and a few days of playing the slots, to our area. After taking in some local culture, Lambert says, visitors are likely to patronize the area's many shops, restaurants and hotels. "I think there's a new awareness that...
There's still time to catch an exhibit of a phenomenon in the healing arts that just happens to be producing some of the best "outsider" art in recent years. The Noyes Museum has teamed with Hospital...
The CRDA last month authorized $70,000 for an initial study to create a “neighborhood strategy area” — designed to outline a plan to transform Atlantic City neighborhoods into an arts district and others into medical and education districts. The CRDA could begin land acquisition in the area as early as February....
Annette Funicello Dies at 70
Who Let the Dogs Out