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. Built-in the 1890s, the Hungerford housed 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.
The building was bought in the spring by Peter Hungerford, the owner of PH Reality. We all knew the sale would bring changes. Rents would 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 met 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 — 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.
Prices of rental properties are increasing considerably, and additional charges are being levied. The upkeep and maintenance of the buildings and grounds remain necessary. Renewals of leases are not being offered, and instead, tenants are being asked to pay on a month-to-month basis with triple net terms. Some parts of the property are being cleared out to be renovated into apartments, and tenants are either being offered a smaller basement location or asked to vacate the premises.
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 the year. I will do my best to stay positive and embrace the new things change brings.
I hope you have a much brighter year ahead.