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City Island Banking on Neighborhood's Artistic Draw

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Bronx residents who live on City Island want to turn their neighborhood into the next DUMBO or Williamsburg and are encouraging artists to move in. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

After showing his work on City Island about 40 years ago, Ron Terner was sold on the neighborhood: City Island had to be home.

"I thought that this was an amazing place to be, to be able to show my work and live. You have the water, you have the people. I felt very much at home," Terner recalled.

With little money, Terner opened a gallery in a storefront, and while he says it wasn't conventional, he made the space his home.

"I was able to turn the front into the gallery. The middle part was the studio and in the back was where I lived and that made it affordable for me to make a dream come true," he said.

Terner is still living that dream, showing his and the work of others at the Focal Point Gallery. He's no longer living there and has moved the gallery into a larger space, something he couldn't have done without his humble start.

Now, the City Island Chamber of Commerce is inviting other artists to do what Terner did and grow in their neighborhood.

"The gentrification of New York City inspired me to do this. Artists need a place to go. I was talking to realtors in Williamsburg and property owners in Williamsburg and artists are leaving those places because they can't afford to be there any longer," said City Island Chamber of Commerce President Skip Giacco.

And there's no shortage of space. There are several vacant storefronts on the island and real estate agents say are going for good prices.

"We trying to kind of change into, I guess like DUMBO or something like that, but DUMBO with the price down here, not up there. You could rent out a storefront for $1,200 to $1,500," said Robert Carmody of AER Property Management.

The goal is to turn City Island into a sort of artist colony. Residents say it's the perfect environment. The water and small town feel inspired Terner.

"I always go down to the waterfront. I find things there. I utilize it in my work," Terner said.

City Islanders say artists enhance the neighborhood and might even draw more people looking to discover new galleries and shops.

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