24 January 2013
While tens of thousands of cars pass through the intersection of Washington and Broad on a daily basis, few of them think to stop for anything but gasoline or Cajun’s Seafood. That is soon to change. The historic Broadmoor neighborhood is receiving a makeover that will restore and elevate the community’s vibrancy that was once so prevalent.
One energizing force for Broadmoor improvement is Green Coast Enterprises, an environmental real estate developer that is heading a four building, $8.7 million renovation project at the intersection of Washington and Broad. The renovations will include a community health clinic, Laurel Street Bakery, the Propeller Incubator (opened on January 2nd) and headquarters for Global Green and the Broadmoor Development Corporation. Additionally, plans are in the advanced stage for bike lanes, improving pedestrian safety, and beautifying the area, a project led by the Community of Public Works.
Broadmoor community members Nicole Balthazar and her husband Brent Balthazar are certainly among the many to be thanked for their contributions to this Broadmoor renaissance. Together, Nicole and Brent purchased and renovated the abandoned Broadmoor cookie factory, and transformed it into Dyverse City, a local art market designed for entrepreneurs in search of rental space at an affordable price.
“Dyverse City strives to find commercial abandoned and blighted buildings and renovate them. We want to help revitalize the community that surrounds these buildings by fixing them up and providing space for entrepreneurs trying to get started. We’re just trying to do our part in community development,” explained Nicole.
After opening in May 2012, Dyverse City has shown consistent growth over the past nine months. 11 retail shops and 14 artist shops are now housed in the 10,000 square foot warehouse that feels like Broadmoor’s own version of the French Market in the Quarter. Brightly painted booths invite customers to browse boutique jewelry, collectors items, florists and plant shops, and retail stores.
Rasheena Nichols is one of Dyverse City’s talented artistic tenants, whose skills and services range from makeup, clothing and jewelry to quick weaves, sew-ins, waxing and ear piercing. “The people keep me here,” said Nichols. “They’re honest; you can tell they care about this place. Everybody communicates, supports each other, and wants each other to succeed. They’re of the family-type.”
The Balthazar’s have big plans for Dyverse City, some of which are already in the works. Free Saturday dance classes are offered for youth and adults including salsa, belly dance, and modern. Art, theater and voice lessons will begin in April as part of a Youth Cultural Arts Program.
“In order for our community to grow, we need to provide our youth with some incentives for positivity,” said Nicole. “Surrounding them with entrepreneurs that are just getting started is a nice thing for them to witness, while also giving them a space to grow and things to focus on.”
For customers, Dyverse City’s location in the Broadmoor cultural arts district means tax-free purchases on all art. The shops are open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-6pm, with Saturdays receiving the most traffic from community members. The address is 3929 Fourth Street off of South Broad.
If you want to join the family-like community of artists at Dyverse City, Nicole and Brent will be happy to build you a tailored space. Rental spaces are available for $150, $300, $450 and $600 per month.
You can learn more about Dyverse City on their website www.dyversecity.com.