Soho was once one. So were Tribeca; Venice, Calif.; and Philadelphia's Old City. These former gritty neighborhoods once offered low-cost housing for artists. Over time, these neighborhoods flourished, adding art galleries, coffee shops, hip little boutiques, and cool restaurants.
But artists aren't looking for the next hot neighborhood, just large, affordable spaces where they can grind, hammer, saw, and generally make a racket in the name of creativity. But they often set the stage for redevelopment, and homebuyers who follow their lead can sometimes get in while real estate prices are affordable.
BusinessWeek says Downtown Durham is next.
"The 12-by-14-block area, which was abandoned decades ago by tobacco companies and residents moving to the suburbs, has blossomed during the past decade and is now a vibrant place with outdoor concerts, bars, and about 40 restaurants. Some artists got in early and now own or rent downtown, which is no longer cheap. Developers, however, are setting aside space for artists in new downtown developments. And many artists are finding deals on the outskirts, within a 25-minute walk of downtown."