A future artists’ haven in Dixwell has a new name and a new pricetag for completion—between $8 million and $10 million.
City officials and reporters Wednesday got a firsthand look at what is now being called NXTHVN (translation: Next Haven) at 169 Henry St.
Formerly known as the “PostMaster Project,” the future home for emerging and premiere artists is the brainchild of two Yale School of Art grads, Titus Kaphar and Jonathan Brand.
Kaphar narrated the tour Wednesday, explaining a vision for the development that will include a co-working space that doubles as an art gallery, a black box theatre space, artists studios, artists residences, and a cafe run by students from the nearby ConnCAT training center.
The cost of that vision — initially projected at around $5.8 million — has gone up significantly in the last month, according to project construction manager Jeff Leibowitz, thanks in part to a rise in the cost of materials such as steel and aluminum in the face of new tariffs.
Jason Price, who serves as a co-founder and project COO, said that fundraising is an ongoing pursuit of the project. His team continues to work with the state and the city to find other grants while simultaneously seeking out private investment.
The first phase of the project, the opening of the artists’ studios, is on track to open in January, according to Kaphar.
“As an artist, I can tell you that finding studio space is incredibly challenging for professional artists,” Kaphar said. “Some of the studio spaces that I’ve looked at the ceilings leak, the heat doesn’t work and that’s a problem. This is going to be a state of the art studio space. Each of the studio spaces will have wonderful skylights, will be temperature controlled — thank God. I’m really excited about what’s going to take place in this space here.”
Deborah Berke, who serves as the Yale School of Architecture’s dean and whose firm designed NXTHVN, said that the project marries a mix of uses in what will be new construction and the adaptive reuse of an older structure. “That should be the goal wherever we do this and New Haven is the right place to be doing it,” she said.
Mayor Toni Harp said that in a city as old as New Haven, recycling and reclaiming space is imperative. “This innovative project is meant to encourage additional innovation and the development of individual, creative talent among residents,” Harp said. “New Haven’s collective talent and creative energy is, by definition, and by extension, the accumulation of the creativity built into each of us.”
Kaphar stressed that NXTHVN is not gentrifying Dixwell.
“One thing I do want to say is that this is already a great neighborhood,” he said. “I think there are folks that don’t understand what we’re going for with this project. Gentrification is exactly what we do not want to do in this neighborhood.”
He noted NXTHVN is not building an arts community from scratch. The neighborhood already has a long and rich history of artistic expression, particularly when it comes to music. The project seeks to build on that foundation and to make sure that the community has a stake in what comes out of the project.
Neighbors will have access to the cafe. They’ll be able to take out memberships in the co-working space. Hillhouse High students will have the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program.
“I like my neighbors,” said Kaphar, who lives within walking distance of the development. “And so far they like me. This is about bringing opportunities not pushing people out or raising rents. It’s about providing amazing things for people who deserve amazing things.”
In addition to the mentorship, the project will offer paid fellowships with the hopes of attracting and keeping some of the world’s best artists right here in New Haven. Kaphar said the future fellowship program has already more than 100 applications from artists around the world interested in the six fellowships that will be offered. Fellows will serve as mentors to the local students in the mentorship program.
“New Haven is a place I adopted and this place has become my home,” he said. “I love this place. I’m not going anywhere for some time. But I didn’t fall in love with this place until I got out of Yale. I had to leave that institution to really understand. I recognize that there are challenges here but I also recognized there were so many opportunities.”
Click the Facebook Live video below to watch a post-tour press conference.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 3, 2018 11:04pm
NHI didn’t print my last comment, but, in short, ‘THIS IS A HUSTLE’.
posted by: Martha Smith on October 3, 2018 11:13pm
@ Karla Marx: Jonathan Brand does live in New Haven; there must be someone with the same name in New London.
posted by: robn on October 3, 2018 11:48pm
The property looks to be about 25,000sf (from the air). If so, they originally budgeted $200/sf. That was a bit naive, especially with a theater included in the program (even if it’s a black box there’s still some special expenses like a grid). And keep in mind that HAHN has single handedly played a major role in the local escalation of construction cost by foolishly doling out a half million dollars per unit for many, many modest public housing units.
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 4, 2018 7:44am
Karla, according to the parallel NH Register story and whitepages.com, Jonathan Brand lives in East Rock. I don’t know him, but it is a fairly common name.
posted by: deathandtaxes on October 4, 2018 7:57am
Bill Saunders - YES!
posted by: ebw1957 on October 4, 2018 8:53am
While it sounds all warm and fuzzy why are we paying for it?
It seems like if the money is tied in with Yale (yeah the place with a 29 billion dollar endowment) and the “arts” then money is no object.
Here is an idea- instead of giving money to another non for profit boondoggle - you gave every retail paint store in Ct a piece of that pool of money? There sure would be a whole crap load more artistic walls around the state and employees paying taxes.
With every tax payer in Ct owing $25,000 or so towards the state debt- these bone heads can never find anyone else to “invest” in their comfort accept those of us who never asked for the tab..
posted by: JCFremont on October 4, 2018 9:41am
Doesn’t much of the activities parallel those of The Q-House? Let’s face it in New Haven any budget agreed to before a shovel hits the ground is a shame. None of the material needed was contracted before the tariffs where put in place? Try a new tact. How about costs have risen because we won’t to buy from domestic producers, makes it sound better than the prices of cheap foreign material has risen because of tariffs.
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 4, 2018 12:27pm
The prior story (by Christopher Peak) said that the project is primarily being funded by foundations and other private donors. Both he and Markeshia are skilled reporters - I trust they would have noted any city funding.
posted by: ebw1957 on October 4, 2018 12:53pm
JCFremont- even the state and city need to go through the proper initial bidding process correctly or no legitimate contractor would give them an estimate. Materials are out to bid by the contractor before the contractor submits the estimate. So in a nut shell the primary materials HAD to be bought or under contract long before tariffs were put in place. BTW- even with tariffs the domestic materials market is still way more expensive.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 4, 2018 2:09pm
For the ten million dollar price tag, I could buy six beautiful Victorians in New Haven to house these ‘six’ visiting artists, and still have a few million left over for community programming….
This project is about connection and entitlement.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 4, 2018 4:19pm
Snake-Oil and Three Card Monte Being Sold.This happen in Bushwick, Brooklyn New York where greedy developers, as the restaurants, retailers move in jack up rent prices and the Small time artists were is push out.
posted by: deathandtaxes on October 4, 2018 5:56pm
Kevin McCarthy - is the state of Connecticut a foundation or private donor? Read the NHI article by Markeisha Ricks dated April 10, 2018:
Titus Kaphar is a nationally known artist, collected by MOMA, etc., etc., who just won a prestigious MacArthur “genius” award. The MacArthur citation begins:
“Titus Kaphar is an artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations explore the intersection of art, history, and civic agency. He works across genres, often appropriating and manipulating Western art’s styles and mediums to address pressing social concerns, such as the legacy of slavery in the United States and the confluence of racial injustice, punishment, and protest.”
Kaphar is setting up a center that will bring artists from around the country and the world to the Dixwell neighborhood, where they will work, be mentored, and also mentor local high school students. Arts programming will bring back some of Dixwell’s fabled history as a center for African American life and culture.
Kaphur could have raised money to do this in anywhere in the country, but he chose New Haven and Dixwell (the community where he chooses to live.) From other reporting, the state is contributing $1.2 million but the bulk of the funding is from national and local foundations like the Ford Foundation and the RISC foundation. You can question the state’s considerable spending on “arts and development,” but this would be pretty far down my list of things to cut, and it isn’t the bulk of the money being spent. The foundation money is outside $$ pouring into New Haven, which is great.
Overall, this is a great project which is (literally) being celebrated today across the country a result of the MacArthur award citation. We should celebrate it, too.
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 4, 2018 9:33pm
Deathandtaxes, the state is providing about 20% of the initial estimated cost, and a substantially smaller share of the new estimated cost. Chris said, and I repeated, that the funding is primarily coming from private sources. I stand by my statement.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 4, 2018 9:44pm
So we are still talking at least a million bucks or so from the State of CT….. How much property tax revenue is New Haven going to see from this ten million dollar investment?
Believe me, I’m not confused about what a ‘give-away’ from the State looks like, and/or the value of good connections in high places..
posted by: JCFremont on October 4, 2018 10:51pm
@ebw1957 I understand what you said, my point was if your going to blow through a budget at least do it in country.
posted by: WhatNH on October 5, 2018 7:53am
New Haven loves to make everything sound great! Talk to the neighbors and find out how he tried to get them out their houses and how he went about it! Lets talk real facts!
posted by: robn on October 5, 2018 8:31am
I’d like to hear more about your comment from you or the NHI. Did this development team really try to “get (neighbors) out of their houses” (a comment implying mass expulsion which I find hard to believe) or did they try to buy a few adjacent properties to kickstart their ability to have resident artists during the project development? (something that seems like a reasonable thing because its not coercive).
posted by: elmcitybornandraised on October 6, 2018 11:04am
@Esbey well said. These men are extremely talented and motivated…..can’t wait to see this project blossom.