July 21, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
A store that sat vacant for more than half a year finally got a tenant after art on its façade inspired newfound interest in the property.
Located at 39-11 47th Ave., the store was covered in colorful art that answered the question, “what are you willing to do when you love someone?”
Answers were crowdsourced from the local community and students. With the help of kids at P.S. 206 in Rego Park, the messages were displayed on the window in hashtags, such as #ListenToThem, #MakeQualityTime and #Forgive.
“We were just looking to show how art could be used to not only make the community beautiful, but to also get a building rented,” said Yvonne Shortt, executive director of the arts nonprofit RPGA Studio, which conceptualized the project. “We had a vision, we used art to accomplish it, and the store got rented.”
Walter Selva, the building’s landlord, said he found a tenant just three weeks after the art went up on the storefront.
“I was surprised at how quickly it happened,” Selva said. “Suddenly, there was a lot of attention.”
Selva declined to disclose the rent he is charging on the property.
The incoming tenant is a company called Cooldown Juice, which will bottle, manufacture and deliver made-to-order juices Citywide.
“The art project was one of the main attributes that attracted me to the storefront,” Sunnyside resident and Cooldown Juice owner Eric Barthels said, adding that he especially appreciated the time and effort that went into it.
When RPGA heard that the store had been leased, “we were very excited, we were very happy,” Shortt said. “We’d love to do it with more stores.”
According to Shortt, the nonprofit is currently looking into the possibility of identifying other storefronts that would benefit from a similar arts initiative.