Art foundation hopes to kick-start Lincoln Street Center upgrade in Rockland

By Stephen Betts | Feb 05, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts A zoning change is proposed for Lincoln Street Center in Rockland, to allow for artist living spaces.

Rockland — An art foundation is asking the Rockland City Council to amend the zoning of the Lincoln Street Center to allow artists to live there.

Donna McNeil, executive director of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, spoke briefly with councilors during a Monday, Feb. 4, meeting. The proposed zone change would allow combined living/work spaces related to educational and cultural purposes.

McNeil said it would benefit artists who live away from Rockland and would contribute to the city by bringing in artists from around the state.

The goal is to renovate the section of the building that the foundation rents from the Lincoln Street Center by adding a full kitchen and full bathroom. The foundation is the largest tenant, she said, renting four studio spaces and paying $32,000 annually in rent.

The renovations, however, would only proceed if the Lincoln Street Center also invests in the building with its own renovations, McNeil said.

There are 22 studios in the former school building and nearly all are rented, she said. The zone change would allow for affordable housing for the artists.

The foundation provides grants to artists and is named after the late artists John David Ellis and Joan Marie Beauregard, according to the foundation's website.

The council is scheduled to take a preliminary vote on the zone change at its Feb. 11 meeting. If approved, a formal public hearing and final vote could be held in March.

The Lincoln Street Center is owned by Orchid LLC.

Orchid bought the Lilncoln Street Center in 2012 for $125,000 after Camden National Bank took ownership of the property from the nonprofit organization Lincoln Street Center for Arts. The city had sold the property to that group after the school district moved out in 1996 because of air quality concerns.

Orchid LLC consists of Oded Ashe of Las Vegas, local resident Mario Abaldo and Erez Ram of Agoura, Calif.

The building was constructed in 1866, but had major additions and renovations in the early 1900s. It has 35,000 square feet of space and sits on 1.65 acres. The building was originally Rockland High School, then Rockland District Junior High School before it closed in November 1996.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 05, 2019 09:09

Another step ahead for Rockland and the art community? Our City Council has its hands full.

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Feb 05, 2019 09:08

Thank you, yes. Has been changed.

Posted by: Cathy Baker | Feb 05, 2019 08:27

First sentence needs to end with "there".

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