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Vacant Bronx Courthouse to Transform Into Art Venue

By Eddie Small | January 16, 2015 1:46pm
 The Old Bronx Borough Courthouse has been vacant for decades but will host an art show this spring.
The Old Bronx Borough Courthouse has been vacant for decades but will host an art show this spring.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MORRISANIA — The Old Bronx Borough Courthouse which was vacant and derelict for decades before being renovated will host an art exhibition this spring as developers continue to search for a permanent tenant.

The courthouse at 161st Street and 3rd Avenue will feature artwork and educational workshops for three months starting in April in an attempt to better utilize the space for the community.

The economic development group SoBRO and the arts group No Longer Empty are spearheading the project, which is being funded by a $60,000 grant from the Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“We’ve always been looking for properties, vacancies both big and small,” said No Longer Empty Executive Director Naomi Hersson-Ringskog. “So this one was an architectural gem, and we’re happy that we were able to use it.”

"For three months, that site will be brimming with activity," she continued.

Details of the show are still being worked out, but it will likely include artwork from local, national and international artists, according to Hersson-Ringskog.

The art show is also meant to raise the visibility of the courthouse, which could help it find a long-term tenant.

Henry Weinstein, one of the owners of the building, said he thought some type of medical organization, such as an emergency care center, would be a great fit at the courthouse, as he believes the neighborhood is underserved by these facilities.

In the meantime, however, he wants to make the building more accessible and open to the community, something he said an art exhibition would help him achieve.

"There’s an important artists community in The Bronx," he said, "and they need somewhere to show their creations."

Weinstein also wanted to open up the courthouse because of the renovations he is working on, such as cleaning the entire outside of the building and restoring the lobbies on each floor.

Hersson-Ringskog said she was optimistic that the art show would help make more people aware of the courthouse and described it as located in an ideal spot.

"Now is a beautiful time to come to the South Bronx," she said. "There are new buildings, 200,000 people who pass through the Hub. It’s a very strategic place to be."