As far as South Florida downtowns go, Delray has been on the vanguard of doing things right. OK, so it helps that it has a real downtown that leads directly to the beach, but that’s beside the point. It is pedestrian-friendly (think on-street parking, a two-lane main street) it is to scale (no condo canyons), it knows what people want (festivals, free concerts, green market) and it isn’t afraid to take chances. It’s been paying off for the city for years now and nowhere is that more evident than in the success of the Arts Garage, which is bringing great arts and entertainment to Pineapple Grove‑‑and completely energizing the area.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that the all-knowing Delray Beach City Commission is considering two options at its upcoming meeting on February 12: either selling the Arts Garage space to a personal injury law firm or keeping it as is for the next 10 years, with an option to buy.
I am no city planner, but to me this is a no-brainer and I can’t believe it’s even on the table. The Arts Garage is the kind of success story most towns would die for—it brings viable nightlife and visibility to a downtown after dark; it offers a cultural venue that really works at a very low cost. People love it. It’s unique. And it’s valued: It has already been granted $80,000 in matching funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Alonya Ushe, director of the arts garage and its legion of supporters think moving it would be devastating for a venue that has become action central in Pineapple Grove. It would destroy the momentum that is rarely achieved in neighborhoods such as these. And look at the programming, the classic Cuban orchestra Orquesta Aragón straight from Havana, blues and jazz and drag queens, pianists like Jace Vek, award-winning theater. I mea, we do not need another evening with Tony Bennett or one more night of “Jersey Boys” or “Cats.” We need what the Arts Garage is bringing, and we need it to stay.
If you want to help keep the Arts Garage in its present location, sign the Change.org petition here and attend the petition rally next Tuesday February 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Delray Beach City Hall.
Your support will make a difference.