Read’s Artspace


The landmark Read’s Department Store sat idle for nearly 20 years before Bridgeport officials contacted Artspace. The structure, location, and need for affordable housing made it an ideal site for an artist live/work development. In large part, because of Brian’s leadership and understanding of all aspects of the project—from intricate financing to construction considerations—Read’s is now the cultural center of Bridgeport, and a vibrant home to area artists and their families.
– Sebastian Corradino, Principal at Mission First, Co-Developer


When it opened in 1925, Read’s was hailed as the finest department store between New York and Boston. Five stories tall, with green awnings that gave it an instantly identifiable look, Read’s was a luxurious new symbol of Bridgeport’s sophistication and prosperity. But times change: by the 1970s, downtown Bridgeport had fallen on hard times. Read’s closed its doors in 1981 and became emblematic of urban decay.

In the late 1990s, the City of Bridgeport engaged Artspace to transform this urban landmark into an affordable artist live/work project. In collaboration with Mission First Capital Advisors of Washington, D.C., Artspace created 61 spacious live/work units on the upper floors and arts-friendly commercial space on the ground floor.

The $14.1 million conversion restored the 121,000-square-foot building to its original appearance. Broad interior corridors serve as informal galleries on each of the upper five floors; a public gallery on the ground floor houses more formal exhibitions. Read’s new tenants were true urban pioneers. Until they moved in, downtown Bridgeport’s residential population was zero.

Location:Bridgeport, CT
Total Development Cost:$14.1 million
Number of Units:24 Units / Affordable
Total Area:121,128 sf
Commercial:6,895 sf
Completion:September 2004
Financing:First Mortgage, Low Income Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, City Funding