Best Attitude Toward Downtown Gentrification

Stretch

Artists' studios have made downtown's Crossroads District welcoming again, and rising property taxes are the thanks they get. Which is why the artist known as Stretch decided to buy his own building and rent it out to other artists as cheaply as possible while working with the city to make tax-abatement programs for art-centered businesses. And that's still difficult, so to feed his starving artists and support an international artists' residency program, Stretch is slated to open Grinders at 417 East 18th Street, a sandwich and pizza place, bar, pool hall and (naturally) gallery. His project is a more active way to battle rising costs than woe-is-me hand-wringing. Of course, it is easier to own your own building when your ginormous steel sculptures sell for thousands of dollars, as Stretch's do, and luckily, he's sticking around to give back to KC's art community. So what will happen to the Crossroads when it gets too expensive to be an artist there? "It's already too pricy," Stretch says. "The artists are thinning out there, like how there are no artists in [New York's] SoHo. It's a professional business district. Here, they're all moving east and to the West Bottoms." Ah, yes, moving like cool fairies, spreading hipness to the blighted corners of the world.

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