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Heart of Gallery Row Changing as Galleries in Rosslyn Lofts Look for New Space

By Ed Fuentes with Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, at 03:30PM
Gallery Row Ed Fuentes

5th and Main street could see significant change in the upcoming months as three galleries in the Rosslyn Lofts relocate from their existing spaces.

The corner that has served as the heart of Gallery Row will see a major change this fall. Pharmaka, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA) and El Nopal Press, three of the galleries on the corner of 5th and Main, all recently received eviction notices from the Amerland Group.

While the notices were surprises, the move fits with the growth patterns that have characterized gallery districts around the country. Galleries enter a depressed but interesting neighborhood, help make it a safer and more vibrant place, and then are pushed out once rents rise.

The three galleries, all located on the ground floor of the Amerland Group's Rosslyn Lofts, have long been aware that a time would come when the building owner would want to attract a tenant paying higher rents.

Shane Guffogg, owner-manager of Pharmaka, confirms that he has had three meetings with Amerland in recent months. Still, the notice to move by September "came as a surprise," he said today.

Amerland has offered Pharmaka a space inside the historic hotel's massive lobby, and Guffogg says that the gallery is still considering it.

Earlier this year, Pharmaka and Gilmore and Associates were awarded the lease to a 2,400 square foot space inside the under-construction LAPD Motorpool a few blocks up Main street. That space is intended to be an extension of the gallery, offering programs for at-risk youth and discussions on public art. Guffogg said that the LAPD space is not intended to serve as the gallery's home.

For the moment, El Nopal Press and LACDA have been offered short term leases in the storefronts at mid-block. A coffee cafe is planned for the space that now holds El Nopal Press, and the prime corner where Pharmaka sits is slated to be a furniture store, according to sources.

Bert Green, owner of a gallery across the street and founder of the Downtown Art Walk, sees the moves as a normal evolution.

"It was always the plan that the galleries on the ground floor of the Rosslyn Lofts would be given a cheap deal for as long as the building was in transition. That transition period is now over, as it was defined by the construction of the apartments above," said Green. Amerland opened the affordable lofts above earlier this month.

"Since [the three galleries] do not have leases, they will have to find new spaces, but considering that they have had 5 years at well below market price, and used that time well to establish their identities and reputations, I think that they are all in a good position to evolve to the next level."

"Sometimes," Green said, "change can be a good thing."


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