Change is inevitable, no matter how happy we are where we are. Life moves on. That’s what I keep telling myself.
My studio is inside the Hungerford building, home to a vibrant artist community within its weathered brick walls. The Hungerford was initially built in the 1890s to house the manufacturing of flavored sugar syrups. However, Maguire Properties brought it back from the brink of urban blight and provided affordable space for artists, small businesses, craftspersons, and makers over the decades.
This past spring, the building was purchased by Peter Hungerford of PH Reality. We all knew the sale would bring changes. Rents would most likely go up, but how much was a question. We knew he would have plans for the building. To sum up, the sale brought lots of questions, but I tried to meet them with an open mind.
Well, six months in, and things are not looking good. There is lots of uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
We’ve lost all building security. The Hungerford is located on the edge of a poor neighborhood, and a rail yard on the backside of the building divides it from an affluent area of Rochester. So you can say we are literally “on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Homeless have started to sleep in areas of the building occasionally. The mailroom now smells like urine. Panhandlers are routinely in the parking lot. There have been nine car break-ins in the last couple of months. All but one of the parking lot lights are out, and the bulbs haven’t been replaced.
Rents are going up significantly, with lots of additional charges being added. Building maintenance and grounds upkeep are not being done. Leases are not being renewed, with the tenants moved to month-to-month triple net terms. Some sections are being cleared to renovate into apartments, with tenants offered a smaller basement location or asked to leave.
I recognize that everything I’ve mentioned is within the new building owner’s rights. I may not like it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not within his authority to do so. It’s their building, and they can do what they want with it. I’m sure he has a vision of the future. I’m just not sure how I will fit into that future.
I catch myself looking around the studio, contemplating packing and moving or making lists in my head of what will need to be done, and spending hours online looking for new space to lease. Then, I look at the calendar and start counting the months until my lease ends, wondering what will happen then. How much is my rent going to jump when the lease is up? How many more paintings I’d have to sell to offset the increase? What if I can’t find a new spot? I don’t want to have to paint the basement. — It gets overwhelming at times.
One thing is sure: this next year will be challenging and majorly change my life. But I wanted to let you know what is happening. So you’ll understand why if you see me and I’m a little anxious or unsure about my plans for the second half of 2023. I will do my best to stay positive and embrace the new things change brings.
I hope you have a much brighter 2023 ahead.