After mounting legal fees and media scrutiny, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) dropped its plan to seize artist James Dupree’s Mantua-based studio and turn the property into a grocery store.
PRA however is taking it rough.
By not handing over his property, they claim Dupree is putting lives in danger.
In their release statement PRA states, “the inability to acquire Mr. Dupree’s property puts the prospect of bringing fresh food to this community at serious risk,” like “obesity, heart disease, [and] diabetes.”
James Dupree is a world-renowned artist and native son of Philadelphia, who is about to see his art studio turned into a grocery store, thanks to the rubber-stamp review that passes for judging when his city exercises the power of eminent domain.
You can see the Philadelphia Museum of Art from James’ studio. It is located in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, where James grew up. The studio was a dilapidated warehouse when he purchased it for a little under $200,000. He spent $60,000 installing new electrical equipment and plumbing, $68,000 on roof repairs, and thousands more on renovations, furnishings and appliances.
The investment paid off, for James and for Mantua. What was once a dead, abandoned building is now alive and bustling with activity. James has hosted and taught art classes at his studio and has plans to start a mentorship program in order to give artists an environment where they “can create serious work and receive the support and freedom to explore new ideas.”