NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The impact of the coronavirus is being felt in neighborhoods across the city.

Now, a local business improvement group is working to bring some joy, in the form of art, back to its community.

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Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is usually alive with activity, but the coronavirus has left the usually bustling neighborhood eerily quiet.

“We’re a food and nightlife district, we’re a retail district, we’re an arts and culture district. All of these industries are taking a direct hit,” said Jeffrey LeFrancois, executive director of the Meatpacking Business Improvement District.


Quiet, and vacant. So much so businesses have taken to boarding up their storefronts.

The Meatpacking Business Improvement District says the images of the boarded up buildings has only perpetuated feelings of hopelessness. LeFrancois says the group had to do something.

“This is really a unique situation that we’re all living in right now, and to meet it with art is one of the best things we can do,” he told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.

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To combat the sadness, the BID commissioned local production designer Theresa Rivera to help brighten up neighborhood. She’s painting murals on boarded up businesses.

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A mural by Theresa Rivera in the Meatpacking District (credit: Samantha McElaney)

Rivera has already painted two murals on shuttered businesses in the Meatpacking District. She’s also done one on Fifth Avenue for its BID.

“We prime the walls first, and then I go in. I’ll do a quick drawing,” Rivera said.

Each mural takes between 1-2 days to complete.

Rivera says the projects have given her purpose in these challenging times.

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“We just want to bring light and joy to what’s going on right now because we’re not able to go out to a museum, we’re not able to go out to the theater, to movies,” she said.

The Meatpacking BID says the hope is the art will inspire hope.

“New York is resilient and art has always been a part of the way we’ve recovered and come out of situations that have confronted us, and I have no doubt that art and our commercial districts will play a leading role in the city’s recovery,” LeFrancois said.

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Another mural will be completed in the Meatpacking District on Friday. The BID says it hopes to commission more in the future.