Preserving Culture in the Face of Redevelopment

Posted by Tom Crimmins Realty on Thursday, July 19th, 2018 at 2:30pm.

New York City is known for its bustling art and culture scene. In any of the five boroughs, one can be greeted by a mish-mosh of creative expression unique to its residents.  However, this city is also known for staying chic and contemporary; So how do you maintain this balance of redevelopment and preservation of culture, especially in the ever-changing Staten Island? Nationally recognized project incubator, Design Trust has a plan. 

About Design Trust 

Since 1995, Design Trust has been working to re-purpose and revitalize New York City's public shared spaces with art. According to their website, their mission is to "bring together city agencies, community groups, and private sector experts to make a lasting impact–through design–on how New Yorkers live, work and play. " With the help of professionals in the areas of urban planning, journalism, art, agriculture, finance, architecture and many more, they have been able to organize various programs to brighten the lives of New Yorkers. They have taken on numerous projects all over the five boroughs including the Brooklyn Public Library's redesign, "Five Borough Farm" agriculture initiative, and "El Space" underpass redesign.

Future Culture

One of Design Trust's most recent projects goes by the name "Future Culture." Paired with the Staten Island Arts association, Future Culture is an initiative to preserve the culture of Staten Island's waterfront neighborhoods in the face of mass redevelopment. As said by Monica Valenzuela, the deputy director of Staten Island Arts, and Partner on the Future Culture project,

"Staten Island's North Shore is the last gold coast, as all of the big articles have been calling it. It makes you feel like they’re bringing all the cool people to Staten Island. Which I think is the challenge we’re looking at, because the cool people are already there! So how do you involve them in the development of their neighborhood? By inviting artists to the table, we’re helping to envision that process."

This initiative has sponsored five paid fellowships in various fields to help the area plan for the future: Staten Island artist Lisa Dahl, urban policy expert Ben Margolis, urban designer Margie Ruddick, graphic designer John Schettino and photographer Gareth Smith. After months of dedication, their first installment, Sonic Gates, opened on July 14th. The celebration began with a ribbon cutting ceremony at St. George Ferry Terminal, with performances by artists Dawn Crandell, James Shipp, Xi. Me. Na, Yacouba Sissoko, and Martita Abril. Then art enthusiasts were guided along an "art crawl" of the eccentric sculptures built in public spaces and parks all along Richmond Terrace and Bay Street. There are 8 art pieces in total, some which residents can actually interact with, like "Drum Totem"  in Tompkinsville Park, to be used for weekly drum circles, or "Talking Tubes, "a colorful PVC tube sculpture located in Barrett Triangle that can be used to make percussive noise. Another piece to brighten the day of commuters is the new 90 ft mural on a bus shelter. The mural depicts the endangered Right Whale, paying homage to Staten Island's maritime tradition.

North Shore Redevelopment 

Currently, the New York City Economic Development Corporation is working with the businesses in the private sector on a massive redevelopment of the St. George area. The budget comes from $1 billion of private capital, coupled with $600 million in public funds, leaving a whopping $1.6 billion for developers to play around with. The project includes an extensive retail center and the New York Wheel, the biggest Ferris wheel in the western hemisphere, set to tower 630 feet over the harbor. NYCEDC estimates that the project will bring in massive revenue, attracting around 2 million tourists annually, increase housing by 4,000 units, and add over 2,000 jobs to the local economy. However, there is a fear amongst locals that this development will outprice current residents, transforming the culture of St.George, Tompkinsville, and Stapleton, much like in Harlem, or DUMBO, the Brooklyn neighborhood near the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. However, the work of Future Culture is helping to put residents at ease.

Sonic Gates is just one of many installments in the Future Culture project. So keep an eye out for any new public art you see popping up in the North Shore!

If you have any questions regarding the Staten Island cultural scene or new developments, be sure to stop by our office on 304 Manor Road to talk to one of our experienced real estate agents. You can also contact us over the phone at 718-370-3200 or visit our website at





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