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Operationalizing the SoHo Effect: An Analysis of Affordable Artist Housing in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Stewart, Charlie

Art is a creative expression, a form of transcendent communication, an act of defiance and a source of wonder, fascination, and beauty. Artists, the progenitors of these things, have historically clustered in neighborhoods that offer cheap rent and a prevalence of physical space. Their presence often resulted in some form of cultural commodification, rising rent, and the eventual displacement of the artists themselves. Affordable artist housing protects artists from displacement while simultaneously engendering economic development and cultural identity. It accomplishes these outcomes through public funding for affordable housing and often historic preservation. This thesis seeks to understand the impacts and limitations of affordable artist housing by analyzing the Read’s Artspace building in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It examines issues of gentrification, identity, economic development, and affordable housing through the lens of a city that has experienced decades of population loss and economic decline. Through case studies, a review of economic development, artist housing, and affordable housing literature, and interviews with stakeholders in the Bridgeport community, this thesis identifies the impacts of affordable artist housing and offers a critique of the enterprise itself, hopefully challenging our conventional wisdom and contributing to this emerging field of study.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Beauregard, Robert
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2017
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