Serious protection costs serious money. The price of storing a painting at Arcis can range from just a bit more than at your average self-storage facility to thousands of additional dollars a month depending on the size of the unit, whether there’s custom shelving, and where in the building it’s located, says Lay—but he won’t say by how much.
Cayre applied for and received $13 million in tax breaks on construction by promising the warehouse would bring six full-time and 10 part-time jobs to East Harlem and calculating that its benefit to the city, mainly in other taxes, would total $20 million. But employment at art storage facilities typically goes to aspiring artists who know how to handle, crate, and transport the art; even Arcis’s own filings note that the business will require “employees with specialized skills sets similar to those of a museum registrar.”
That could explain why an administrator at a community organization on the south side of the block called Street Corner Resources, which does job placement for young people as part of its larger mission of reducing gun violence, said on a recent afternoon that he’d heard nothing about Arcis, let alone the possibility of jobs there. Staff at neighboring bodegas, a barbershop, and a local diner were aware of the facility because they’d served chatty construction workers from the job site; none of them knew they would soon share a block with million-dollar paintings. At the senior center next door to Arcis, whose building Cayre’s company acquired, a coordinator said they’d received assurances from the newcomers that they would not be displaced.
Because FTZs are regulated by the federal customs agency, local elected officials don’t participate in the approval process. When asked how Arcis might affect this part of his district, City Councilman Bill Perkins grew aggressive, demanded more information, and directed questions to his predecessor, current State Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.