Monday, September 19, 2011

Compare a McAllen idea with the Kell-Munoz idea

Mac Allen enjoys a delicious Laredo sandwich

McALLEN — Main Street business owners say they’re cautiously optimistic that transforming McAllen’s main library into an arts incubator will increase the area’s cultural cachet and boost their bottom lines.

Moving the arts incubator to North Main Street makes sense, Guerra said, and could catalyze the arts district’s development. The incubator would join Alonzo Cantu’s Art Village on Main, sculptor Douglas Clark and others on the stretch of North Main Street between Business 83 and Pecan Boulevard that has slowly taken on an arts focus.

“We need to find a group that is willing to take on the cost of the building and keep the building up and running,” City Commissioner John Ingram said. “The chamber, with the art incubator, has stepped up to the plate.”

Making the old library a viable studio space presents several challenges, including hefty utility bills, said Steve Ahlenius, the chamber’s president and CEO. At first, the chamber will focus on the building’s first floor.
“This is going to have a bootstrap feel,” Ahlenius said, and expand based on demand.

Artists would rent studios for $175 to $200 each month and potentially offer classes, Ahlenius said. Those events would bring art-minded people to North Main Street, where they might stop into nearby businesses.
“I think moving the incubator over to the old main library, having a place where you can have performances, there are just a lot of possibilities,” Ahlenius said. “I’m betting it’s going to be that tipping point that’s going to help.”

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