When Jeffrey Dorsey walks along Penn Avenue, he doesn't see an area in decline. As arts district manager for the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, he imagines how area artists could buy and renovate each abandoned or derelict building.
"Most artists that I have met are very passionate people," Dorsey says, "and I think that to really turn Penn Avenue into a great place again you need people, artists or not, who are passionate to renovate the buildings and utilize the area."
The Initiative, which is a project of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and Friendship Development Associates Inc., aims to encourage artists to renovate and own buildings as a step toward the groups' larger goal of revitalizing the area between Matilda Street and Negley Avenue., centering on Penn. Hoping to "demystify the buying and renovating process," Dorsey says, the Initiative has set its next Artist Homeowner Workshop for July 24. Initiative staff, architect Anne Chen from EDGE Studio, Freddie Croce (an artist currently buying and renovating a building) and other experienced voices will answer questions and discuss current development projects.
Dorsey, an artist himself, says the Initiative seeks artists to re-populate Penn because "the great thing about working with artists is that they can see the potential in those buildings right away. They also show open-mindedness and commitment. After they buy the buildings they open them up to the public. After they renovate the buildings the neighbors see that this area does have value and then they want to fix up their own spaces."