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Six city-owned buildings and two vacant lots in the East Village were sold to a group of 13 community organizations last week, known as Fourth Arts Block, for $1 apiece. Proposed by Councilmember Margarita Lopez, the sale marks the creation of the East 4th Street Cultural District, the first of its kind in the city. Four of the buildings have been occupied by cultural organizations for years, but group members always feared that they would lose their space to rising rents or luxury housing. “Councilwoman Lopez did a lot of work under the Giuliani administration to keep the buildings from being sold out from under us,” said Ryan Gilliam, chairperson of FAB. The groups will use the spaces as permanent, nonprofit cultural centers for performances, workshops, classes and rehearsals. They will also create theaters for Teatro Circulo and Instituto Arte Teatral Internacional, the first Latino theater companies in the city to own their spaces. Lopez hopes the cultural experiences of the district will also stimulate the neighborhood’s economy. “We wanted to create a magnet to attract people to spend dollars in the community,” she said. [10/4/04]

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