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Do Art Galleries Stimulate Redevelopment?

Jenny Schuettz
New York City is often held up as a successful example of arts-led economic development. Case studies have documented the influx of avant-garde artists and galleries into several neighborhoods, including Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Chelsea, followed by yuppies and boutiques. Some researchers have used these examples to argue that artists and galleries can spur gentrification. An alternative hypothesis is that galleries locate in neighborhoods with higher levels of amenities. In this paper, I examine whether concentrations of galleries are associated with redevelopment of surrounding neighborhoods, conditional on initial neighborhood amenities. Results suggest that while physical conditions do affect gallery location choices, the presence of galleries has little impact on subsequent changes in the built environment. Historic districts, museums, parks and commercial-friendly zoning are positively associated with new gallery openings, although the relationships vary across neighborhoods. Proximity to prior galleries is strongly predictive of new gallery openings. Using historic gallery locations to instrument for current galleries, the analysis finds little evidence that gallery presence is associated with neighborhood redevelopment.