McKinney Avenue Contemporary has ambitious plans for new Cedars home12qwa

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Photo courtesy of MAC

In a move that further solidifies the Cedars’ status as the city’s newest artistic hub, McKinney Avenue Contemporary will relocate from its namesake location to a new venue at 1601 S. Ervay St. in early 2016. That new address is within walking distance to the DART Cedars station and South Side on Lamar.

The 2.16-acre complex of three old brick buildings and metal sheds (formerly Ben Griffon Ford) gives the 20-year-old institution the opportunity to expand its focus while creating a new gathering place for the community.

“[A move] has been in the works since 2006,” says MAC co-founder and project manager Claude Albritton III. “I had procured some property in the Design District, but because the economy fell apart, everything was put on hold.

“This recent [space] was too good an opportunity to pass up. It’s exciting the Cedars has attracted people who want to repurpose rather than rebuild.”

Designed by architect Dan Shipley, the old brick buildings will be remodeled; only the sheds will be demolished to make way for outdoor space. The expanded five-building “campus,” which includes the Pastime Tavern, will encompass a wine and beer garden, coffee house and restaurant, theater, building to house environmental nonprofits, and — hopefully — a permanent photographic arts gallery in addition to the main exhibition space.

“I would like very much to have an arts space that will be independent from the MAC, curated and managed by people who are passionate about photography and video,” Albritton says. “The Cedars is sort of an interesting cultural accumulation of things, and we’re hoping a couple of commercial galleries move in, as well.”

Likely to be titled The MAC at the Cedars, the complex will join artist studios and the Bowdon Family Foundation in making the neighborhood more of a tourist destination. The MAC will stay in its current location at 3120 McKinney Ave. through fall 2015.