Maria Pandolfi, a former art teacher at Childs Elementary, is partnering with Ron Kustrup and opening an after-school arts center for children in the ground floor space of the new building at the intersection of Point Breeze Avenue & Titan Street. This building has been a long time coming, as OCF Realty first presented plans for 13 apartments and a commercial space in January of 2012. The property had been sitting vacant for many years.

In the past

Construction finally got moving last year, after an appeal set back the clock on the project timeline. Today, the building is done and half of the apartments are occupied.

New building

View from Titan Street

Remember, late last year, the property managers (who happen to be the parent company of this website) were in negotiations with a Rita's franchise to take over the commercial space. But Rita's is not to be for this location. Instead OCF is leasing the space and donating it to a tenant that's far more exciting for the community. Coming soon, the Kind Institute will be a combination art gallery/after school center/art education oasis.

Ms. Pandolfi, due to her years at Childs and the fact that she lives in the neighborhood, has a strong connection to the Point Breeze community. With Childs now without an art program, she wanted to again bring the arts into the lives of the children of Point Breeze. She has big goals for the Kind Institute, but if she's able to pull them off it will be a boon for the community.

By day, the space will serve as a gallery, selling works from local and international artists. There will be kids shows too. Also, there will be art classes for parents and toddlers. After school, there will be classes for elementary and middle school kids on the first floor and in the basement. The staff will be a combination of volunteers and paid teachers. They will charge for classes, but every effort will be made to keep the prices affordable.

The Kind Institute has the potential to give kids a place to go after school and bring people together in the community. Classes will start up in January. For more info, you can visit their Facebook page and before the end of the year, there will be an Indiegogo fundraiser and a fundraising event. So be on the lookout.