MidCoast plans to sell Bucktown art space

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014, 5:18 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 26, 2014, 5:20 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

After nine years owning about 60 percent of the Bucktown Center for the Arts, MidCoast Fine Arts is plans to sell its space in the four-story building at 225 E. 2nd St., Davenport.

MidCoast opened the center in July 2005, and it now houses 14 shops and studios on the first two floors, featuring art for sale from 100 regional artists.

This spring, the MidCoast board "determined we put a lot of time and effort into maintaining the actual building of Bucktown, rather than the mission and vision of MidCoast, which is supporting regional artists," board president Amy Orr said.

"The point was, let's get back, let's do art and not do a building," she said. "We do love the idea of Bucktown. It is a fantastic idea, but for us, managing the property has really been a strain. That's not our expertise. Our expertise is programming, events, Riverssance, storefronts, providing things for artists."

Ms. Orr didn't know the annual costs of maintaining the Bucktown building, but said those costs and mortgage payments exceed the monthly lease revenue from the artists. There are several other owners of the upper two floors, which include office and conference room space, the Midwest Writing Center, and condominiums.

MidCoast owns the first and second floors, and parts of the third floor, Ms. Orr said. Once it sells its space, it plans to lease back the first floor, and continue to rent to artists at reasonable costs.

"Our partners, artists, sponsors, everyone would be better served if we were no longer in the business of property management," Ms. Orr said. "All the time, resources and effort that go to the physical structure versus programming, it pulls away from us.

"We know a lot of other pieces have to fall into place before we can move forward with the mission -- focus on artists, quality events and quality programming throughout the Quad-Cities," she said of working through a purchase.

There are a couple spaces on the first floor that are vacant and two on the second floor, and MidCoast still is looking for tenants. Ideally, they would consolidate all the studio and gallery spaces on the first floor, and MidCoast will work to retain all current artists, Ms. Orr said.

"That may not be the case, and if we would part ways, we want to help them find a new location," she said. MidCoast's board has considered looking at opening gallery space at another location - it leases other gallery spaces in the area.

MidCoast would like to return to showcasing artists in empty storefronts, to dress up the vacant buildings, as co-founder Dean Schroeder did, she said. "How cool would it be to facilitate that? We could partner artists with corporate sponsors."

In the future, MidCoast also plans to continue its Final Friday events at Bucktown, she said.

"What's fantastic about Bucktown, we've been able to partner with great organizations, really expand our audience," Ms. Orr said. "It's great; it's always nice to bring in new people, who see how cool it is. It's great to see the excitement (at Final Friday) -- people perusing, enjoying the art," she said.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.

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1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly.
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1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m..
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