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Whatever happened to plans to build the Brooklyn Arts District?

Judy Royal

Before getting to the present and the future, let’s take a look at that area’s past. The following paragraph is a brief history of what is now known as the Brooklyn Arts District area according to “Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten” by Beverly Tetterton:

The name Brooklyn has been associated with the North Fourth Street and surrounding areas since just after the Civil War, when residential development began to spike. It is unknown how that moniker came about (discussions on Web chat boards speculate that the first settlers there may have been from Brooklyn, N.Y). By the early 20th century, Brooklyn was a booming residential and commercial area full of immigrant business owners. The area flourished until 1940, when suburban flight and later unemployment due to the departure of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad caused the area to decline and many buildings to be vacated and torn down. The area sat largely in disrepair until preservation efforts took off in the 70s and 80s, followed by significant rehabilitation and construction in the 1990s.

This is where the book leaves off. Since then, the area has seen a rebirth in both residential and commercial activity. One of the area’s most noteworthy projects, The Promenade, took shape in 2001 on the site of an old junkyard. It consists of several buildings combining residential, commercial and retail space, including one historically named Brooklyn House. In recent years the Weldon and Modern Baking Co. buildings have sprung up offering sleek new condominiums in a mixed-use setting. All of these projects are from Plantation Building Corp.

Several new businesses have opened around the development, including the popular Big Thai and Goat & Compass. If you haven’t been to that area lately, chances are you’ll see a new shop or restaurant and feel like you’re visiting a small city you’ve never been to before.

While galleries and studios dot the area, the “Arts District” part of the moniker was likely linked to the planned Brooklyn Arts Center, a project that intended to turn the old St. Andrews Church at 520 N. Fourth St. into a community arts center. Renovations to the exterior masonry of the old church were under way in 2006, but in June 2008 the Brooklyn Arts Center nonprofit group declared the effort a failure due to the inability to raise adequate funds and has since put the pr0perty up for sale.

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One Response to “ Whatever happened to plans to build the Brooklyn Arts District?”

  1. On March 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm Dennis Walsak wrote:

    There are the culturally significant and historic aspects of the neighborhood, however, more recently: Acme Art Studios–a collection of working studios–has been around since the early 90′s; Modular Graphics since 1994 and now 621N4TH Gallery is in that building; the Arts Council of the Lower Cape Fear was there in 1995 until it closed in May 2002. The original NOFO was at the corner of 4th and Hanover for years; Creative Wilmington was conceived and created there in 2005; the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews–in the works for years–will finally be opening next month (April 2011); Cape Fear Community College’s Arts and Humanities building will be breaking ground in the near future.

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