Dasha Zhukova’s New Real Estate Venture
Ray, makes It ‘night at the museum’ every night.
Ray, makes It ‘night at the museum’ every night.
The future of museum-going and cultural forays could be down in your own lobby, according to Dasha Zhukova, the arts patron and philanthropist who is launching a new residential real estate development firm in New York.
Ray, the name of Zhukova’s new brand, sets out to remedy a blind spot she sees in the residential world: the lack of arts and culture experiences in urban developments. Where other buildings and “co-living” spaces offer perks like golf simulators and dog grooming services, Ray’s buildings will offer cultural programming like master classes, events and workshops drawn from local institutions and artists to encourage creative synergy, says Zhukova, 39, with rents pegged at or below market rate.
One of the venture’s projects is reimagining Harlem’s three-story National Black Theatre, founded in 1968 by the late Barbara Ann Teer on the corner of 125th Street and Fifth Avenue, and is set to break ground by the end of May. A 21-storey building will take its place, with the new theatre space, retail and an event space spread across the first four floors, which Ray is developing with L+M Development Partners. The final structure will include 222 apartments, as well as artist studios, co-working spaces, communal kitchens, a library and a wellness space, and is slated to be completed in 2024.
Teer’s daughter, Sade Lythcott, now leads the theatre. “This project and partnership has felt [like] kismet from the time Dasha and I first met in 2019, not around aesthetics or Ray’s business model, but around our mothers. What it has meant to be women, raised by fearless matriarchs,” Lythcott wrote by email. “There is an incredible amount of equity created when you first start from a place that recognizes our shared humanity, honours what came before, in service of creating the built spaces of the future.”
Zhukova was inspired to launch Ray after seeing how visitors were drawn to the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, the Moscow museum she co-founded in 2008. Its current home was designed by acclaimed architect Rem Koolhaas. “Even if [visitors] had seen all the shows that we had on, they would just stay and hang out in our lobby,” she says. “They would hang out in our cafe for hours on end—just come back day after day because they wanted to be in that environment.”
While hotels such as New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel have showcased art collections including names like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and developers have often staged high-end homes with trendy art to help sweeten the blue-chip price tags, one of Ray’s rental buildings will boast a permanent installation by Rashid Johnson, whose work just fetched a record US$1.95 million at Christie’s on May 11. Johnson will be creating a plant-filled installation for the lobby of a 110-unit building in Philadelphia’s rising Fishtown neighbourhood, which also will have six street-level artist studios, as well as maker spaces, and will be completed in 2022.
“Access to art shouldn’t be for a privileged few,” Johnson wrote by email. “These art and living spaces are aiming to bridge some of this gap, for me that’s exciting.”
The first two Ray ventures in Philadelphia and Harlem are largely financed by Zhukova. Ray recently inked a third deal, in Miami, where the site will expand beyond the 250-plus unit rental building that will anchor it, says Zhukova, with future plans for retail, offices, landscaped walkways and single- and multi-family homes.) With each project, Ray will emphasize new buildings rather than retrofitting existing space: “To truly rethink the space and how we occupy it…you really need to rebuild,” says Zhukova, who is looking to make inventive use of materials and space in part to make up for areas where Ray is spending more freely. “The focus [is] on how our habits have changed, the technological innovation and the cultural change.”
Her team at Ray currently eschews traditional titles—Zhukova calls her colleagues “thought partners”—and includes Will Kluczkowski, a real estate veteran from DDG; Becca Goldstein, a Stanford MBA whose CV includes a stint at a Brooklyn-based whisky distillery; and the design gallerist Suzanne Demisch.
“We are looking for creative solutions,” says Demisch, who says she enjoys the challenge posed by a limited budget. “We are asking why. There’s not a package for all the touchpoints of the experience—it’s about the aesthetic and the culture of each location.” Months were spent developing and perfecting the hand-split bricks for the facade of the Philadelphia project with manufacturers Glen-Gery and architecture firm Leong Leong—and finding the perfect Pantone swatch for the pinkish hue of the Harlem building facade, which is a nod to the historic Nigerian site the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove.
Such historic references were a priority of the architect of Ray’s Harlem project, Frida Escobedo, who is based in Mexico City. Art panels, inscriptions and a geometric, rhythmic facade that echo the motifs of the original National Black Theatre all refer to its previous incarnation, but “we’re also putting a great deal of focus on communal spaces, such as the artist studio and constellation of gathering areas,” says Escobedo, who is collaborating on the interiors with designer Little Wing Lee of Studio & Projects.
Zhukova, meanwhile, is partnering with Artspace, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit developer of art spaces, which will receive funding from the Ford Foundation in order to provide housing and studios at the Harlem building. She hopes to do the same in all Ray buildings. Her goal is to create accessible rents that will allow artists to remain in their home neighbourhoods rather than fleeing cities for more affordable live/work options. Zhukova next has her eye on rising cities including Austin, Nashville, Denver and Portland, Oregon, where she says they will focus on neighbourhoods that are a cultural fit for the brand.
“My personal dream is to build in Arizona,” says Zhukova. “I think in that climate and given the less restrictive building codes, you could build something absolutely incredible.”
Reprinted by permission of WSJ. Magazine. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 14, 2021
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Vacationers scratching their travel itch this season are sending prices through the roof. Here’s how some are making trade-offs.
Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.
The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.
Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.
“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.
With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.
Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.
Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)
The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.
“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”
For some, that means a cheaper hotel. Hotels.com says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.
For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.
Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.
Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.
The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.
“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.
Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.
For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.
To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.
For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.
Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.
Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.
McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.
“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”
Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.
Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.
He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.
He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.
“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.
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