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curiousKC Follows the Artists

Tracking the Bleeding Edge of Urban Redevelopment

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Many years ago, a pioneering developer working in the neglected Garment District offered a young reporter some sage advice.

“Keep your eye on the artists,” Mel Mallin said. “They’re the bird dogs of development.”

His point was simple, yet powerful.

Aspiring artists live on the bleeding edge of the art-versus-commerce blade. They are constantly searching for the cheapest possible space to ply their craft, so they’re always on the move, bringing hipster cred wherever they go.

Smart developers, and their dollars, follow artists like water flows downhill – ultimately pumping up prices and nudging the artists to the next coolest neighborhood.

And it happens again. And again.

Some decry it as gentrification. Others note that development is a process, not a static state.

Either way, it’s happening again. And it prompted a loyal friend of Flatland to ask the curiousKC team to explore where the artists are moving as the Crossroads becomes evermore commercialized.

So we turned to Dana Gibson, a community developer who often works with the artistic community. As it happens, Gibson is Mel Mallin’s son-in-law.

The attached video suggests Gibson has learned his lesson well. And he has some sage advice of his own to offer – develop deeper civic support for the artistic community, and teach aspiring artists the art of commerce.

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