The Creative Economy Creating Community - How Real Estate Developers Can Partner with the Arts

New London, CT

Contact Name
Tammy Daugherty
Project Dates
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2017
Marketing, Real Estate, Event
A few years ago, New London Harbour Towers was a newly constructed luxury condo building on the edge of downtown. The task was to sell the 52 condos, but traditional open house events just didn't seem to be an effective method in creating a sense of community and attracting homeowners to our vibrant downtown. We needed to knit the gorgeous vacant 9-story building to the downtown neighborhood, which is the creative center of the city and the region. We set out to make NL Harbour Towers a host of the downtown's art and music scene. It became an "extension" of Hygienic Art, Expressiones, The Garde, NL Community Orchestra and others by hosting and supporting art shows, fundraisers and concerts. NL Harbour Towers quickly became the home of artists and patrons of the arts.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
Goal was to sell homes to individuals and families who wanted to live in a creative and vibrant downtown. We needed to demonstrate and pull the downtown "vibe" into a large beautiful vacant building. To support the mission of and to foster a financial benefit to the various arts and culture organizations downtown.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The goal remained the same. We continued to create events and programs to continue to bring people into the building with the goal of selling condos.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Hygienic Art, Expressiones, The Garde, NL Community Orchestra, The Day, Lyme Academy, L+M and area restaurants and bars.

The arts organizations helped to curate art shows, facilitate the calls for artists and organize concerts. The Day was a strategic marketing and advertising partner. L+M and the area restaurants offered culinary events

Harbour Towers sponsored shows and events hosted by the various venues downtown and beyond. We managed much cross promotion and gave incentives for open houses and tours that drove foot traffic to our partners
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The health and revitalization of the downtown depends on the creation and occupancy of market rate (and above) residential opportunities
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
The inspiration came from the long endeavoring arts community and the New London tradition of coming together and just making things happen
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
Our marketing and sales team identified established arts & music organization(s). We offer performance and/or gallery space. Design events that were a financial benefit to the artists & non-profits by the galleries receiving the commission off the sale of art, musicians collecting the cover charge or ticket sales, artists being able to show and sell existing art that they have created for previous gallery shows. Call For Artists in conjunction with the art organization. Arts organization curate the show and the developer hung the art. We partnered with local restaurants for catering. We bought local art for common areas and model homes and commissioned murals
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
During some construction phases it was not appropriate to host events so we sponsored art shows and other cultural events out in the community and brought our model and virtual video tour. By the time we were ready to host art shows we had a established our project as art community supportive. There was a "buzz" and curiosity about the building and we became a place to go for great events.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Communication was an obstacle. Communication needed to happen between the marketing team and the Hygienic to coordinate the Call for Artists around their in-house shows and events. We didn't turn down any artist we just needed to find a place to hang or display their art that was appropriate. There was quite a bit of negotiations between our construction crew who was responsible for the physically displaying the work and the artists who wanted their work to go certain places. Communication between the marketing team, cater and event staff. Then the communication between the marketing team and the media and the public to assure a good turnout.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Assigning one project manager to be the hub of communications. Delegate tasks and responsibilities but have everyone reporting to one person.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Have a developer who understands that hosting an event that benefits artists and non-profits is part of the marketing budget and not to try to offset expenses with event income. Event income should benefit a artists and non-profit organizations. The return on the investment comes through the sale/lease of property.

2. Identify a strong and established arts organization with the capacity to help produce an art show off-site and musicians who draw a crowd.

3. Create a database of non-profits in the area and offer free event space with the understanding that the building will be open for tours to attendees.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
Increased the tax contribution of the real estate from $12,000 to something around $278,458.20. Brought 52 families downtown to enjoy events, restaurants, shops, etc. Many of the residents of Harbour Towers are enthusiastically engaged in community organizations and the public process.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
We started with a big beautiful vacant building with no pre-sales during the middle of Great Recession. Coinciding with the crash of the national condo market. In the most depressed housing market in Southeastern Connecticut, while at least doubling the price of competing local condos. These events brought life and energy to the building and gave people a fun excuse to view the condos. Incredibly more effective than a normal open house. The fundraising aspect created an immense amount of good will in the community and most of the initial purchases came from the arts community. Artists themselves or those who were connected to the art scene.
How did you measure this success or progress?
It was measured in attendees, event income and finally, in condo sales
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
The building became a valued asset in the community as a stand alone event venue
CCX Workshop Handout

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