Winchester is the smallest of the valley's townships, but when it comes to art, it looms large. It is the home of the Winchester Cultural Center, which includes a gallery, a theater and a dance room. The first of Clark County's ZAP projects, in which local talent artistically painted utility boxes, is scattered around the neighborhood.
Winchester is soon to host a neighborhood revitalization program with an artistic twist.
The Winchester Stabilization Program is set to tap federal grant money to purchase foreclosed homes, revitalize them and reoccupy them.
"It's part of a federal neighborhood stabilization program," said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, whose District E includes Winchester. "We wanted to target areas that were being destabilized, and we thought the Winchester area was an appropriate place. It's an older part of the valley, and it's got a lot of culture there, but it also has a lot of foreclosures."
Through partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, approximately 50 foreclosed and vacant detached single-family residences in the area are to be acquired, brought up to code and made energy-efficient. Half the homes are to be rented as long-term affordable housing, and the other half are to be sold to eligible households by the nonprofit developer Housing For Nevada.
An open community meeting to discuss the project is scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Winchester Cultural Center, 3150 S. McLeod Drive.
When Patrick Gaffey, cultural program supervisor for Clark County, was asked if the center could host the meeting, he agreed immediately. Since he was already talking with planners, Gaffey considered the opportunity to be a foot in the door.
"I told them that as long as they were doing this, I'd love to get artists involved," Gaffey said. "To my great surprise, they agreed."
Ten homes already have been purchased in the neighborhood, and the plan is for artists to work hand in hand with the contractors.
"We've already identified a number of things the artists can do to help beautify the homes," Gaffey said. "They may build a gate for the house or create a new garage or front door. They may spec out the color scheme or redo the front yard landscape artistically. There may be a few mosaics created, especially for those homes with swimming pools."
Giunchigliani thinks the involvement of artists will not only enhance the project but will improve the chances of achieving the project's goal of stabilizing the area.
"Really what we're talking about is building a sense of community," she said. "I think art and culture are key ingredients. This is a perfect opportunity to match upgrading a neighborhood with recognizing that we have a wonderful culture there already and promote it through the arts."
Gaffey said most of the artistic embellishments would be on the outside, many of them in public view.
"I've heard that in the past, the county has tried to keep it quiet about rehabbing homes in similar projects," Gaffey said. "It looks like this time these may end up being the most distinctive homes in the neighborhood, and it will really look special."
The deadline for artists applying to participate has passed. Potential project residents are encouraged to attend the meeting. To RSVP for the event, call 455-2269. For more information about the project, contact Clark County Community Resources at 455-5025.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 380-4532.