Friday, May 18, 2007

Real Estate Madness

Follow-up to yesterday's post on Art Coverage. For the record, the gallery coverage in The New York Times today is extensive. With 7 reveiws in the Art in Review section (including three by one of the new writers I didn't mention yesterday, Bridget L. Goodbody [yes, still sucking up]) and 4 major stories sprinkled through out. There's still only one listing for a Chelsea gallery, which suggests that section is winding down altogether, but I give credit where it's due, and admit when I was emulating Chicken Little.
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The Chelsea real estate sky is falling! The Chelsea real estate sky is falling!

OK, so again, perhaps a bit of hyperbole, but as reported in the Times today, unless you're a behemoth gallery or independently wealthy, your odds of getting a good Chelsea location are getting slimmer all the time. We were lucky to get a ground floor space when we did (and even then, we're closer to New Jersey than we are to 5th Avenue), but are terrified of what things might look like when our lease is up (can't think about that just now, must think happy thoughts!)

Here's the essence of the drama:

The contemporary art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s this month are among New York’s colorful rites of spring. Art dealers say they expect the spring sales to be especially bountiful this year, thanks in no small part to the record bonuses on Wall Street in December.

“The demand is huge,” said the art dealer Perry Rubenstein, who added that the contemporary art market was “accelerating as we speak.”

While the market is red-hot, many prominent New York dealers are scrambling for ever more gallery space. Some of them have traded up to bigger spaces that allow them to show larger works, while others have opened second — or even third — galleries.

The competition for gallery space is probably fiercest right at the heart of the art market in Chelsea, the neighborhood that has become a magnet for contemporary art collectors. The core gallery district stretches roughly from 20th to 26th Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues. There are a handful of galleries a bit north or south, but almost everything is west of 10th Avenue.

“That’s where the hedge fund people go to drop a lot of cash,” said Matthew Bergey, a real estate broker at CB Richard Ellis, who is an art collector himself. “They enjoy art, and they are also trying to get into the right social stratosphere,” by collecting contemporary art.

Mr. Bergey said the tight market for space in the Chelsea gallery district is forcing out many young dealers. Some of them are taking space a few streets farther south, toward the West Village, while others are opening galleries on the Bowery, in the East Village. But when new space becomes available in Chelsea, it is usually the better-established dealers who can snare it.

In addition to how hard it is to find a Chelsea space at all now, unless a gallery was flush enough to buy their Chelsea location, many are now facing their initial leases coming up for renewal and landlords are raising rents to astronomical sums. I've heard of 60% increases by landlords who consider themselves pro-gallery. Furthermore, I was recently told of one space where the rent soared to 10 times what it was less than 5 years ago.

With all the new condo buildings going up in the neighborhood (suggesting if the galleries have to move out, there will be plenty of residents to support restaurants or boutiques moving in), there's every reason for galleries who don't own to start considering where the new concentration of New York's contemporary art scene might be in a few years.

Uggh...I can't think about that right now. I still haven't unpacked everything from our recent move.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

most likely the area near where the new museum is going up will be the "next" gallery area.

5/18/2007 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I predict the NY art scene will become the NJ art scene. Chartered party boats will ferry big-spending social-stratosphere types across the river for evenings of art buying, drinking and gambling.

5/18/2007 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

So many artists have left NY because of rising rents. Or moved so far out that no one will ever visit their studios. Are smaller galleries to share their fate?

5/18/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tyler said...

There were? Oh yeah, there were. M. Kimmelman so thoroughly put me to sleep that I didn't make it through the sec.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

5/18/2007 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger aurix said...

haha. good one.

5/18/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Mls says, rightly, that artists will be forced out ever farther away from New York. But as David points out, the galleries may well follow suit. So it won't matter that artists are in Ohio; the dealers will be there, too.
What about the collectors? They'll go to the art fairs, which is one way for even an Ohio dealer to have a global presence.

Until the developers move in and the cycle starts all over again....See you in Siberia? Until the developers move in....

5/18/2007 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Remember me? An echo of my words? Again?

x
mls

5/18/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Collectors will make that weekend excursion to Los Angeles, not Jersey. It is already happening. 'First run' art at bargain prices.

Then, they will see the changing skyline, experience the balmy weather, and stay.

It is a mixed bag for us natives, but that is the price of progress.

5/18/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

See you in Pittsburgh?? Seriously, when are we going to learn that we are the straw that stirs the drink and not the other way around.

The smart thing to do would be to form some kind of um secret cartel of starving artists and dealers and take some place over.

5/18/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The smart thing would be to marry up so you could afford the rent and stay close to the distribution center of art or...

....buy a place....or...

...buy a better computer and go web based..or...

...or demand housing for artists...or...

really people, stop already with the conventional wisdom or you will become the victim of the better prepared ( and richer) next generation...

mls
...last time I saw straw a cow was eating a bunch of it...
...and if you really cared, start with:
Contact The Artists Alliance in the Lower East Side, they are a bunch of good people-artists under attack by terrible individuals-real estate kind...start a national scandal....they are fighting for their studios, gallery and a good studio program...or just continue here with the lip service...right Ed?

5/18/2007 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

"lip service..."

Anonymous,
How do you know the artists who are responding to this topic aren't actively involved in some way? This website it not the Artists' Action Alliance. It is a place where folks talk about what's on our minds at Edward's invitation/provocation/instigation (and thanks for that, Ed.)

I'd guess that more than a few of us are involved in one or more of these issues:
. securing better studio space, health insurance, information for artists
. are actively working on our careers, because you are absolutely right in saying that the next generation is better prepared
. are sharing what we are learning/have learned with others, whether casually, collectively or in an institutional setting

Sometimes artists just wanna chill, you know? Well, let me speak for myself. Checking in and weighing in during the day provides me, a studio artist, with a nice way to connect with people.

5/18/2007 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joanne:
Again you seem not to see that I am reacting to Ed's post and NYTs article (and others out there), and not at the people posting here. I mentioned all these issues long ago. Remember?

I am sure many artists here are doing fine. (Out there is a different story.)

So why talk about them and not the real issues? The best way to fight these crazy times is to take care of your own first.

mls
...The Artists Alliance...
...I am chilling too...

5/18/2007 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Anon,
Glad we're all chilling. More next week.

5/19/2007 12:43:00 AM  

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