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NYC developers hope cool graffiti can sell hot houses

Momo — a New Orleans-based artist whose murals have adorned residential and commercial facades around America and Europe — spent last week in Manhattan completing his latest commission.

But this work is inside, at the 864-unit Mercedes House rental in Hell’s Kitchen. It begins on a wall behind the front desk, curls around a corner and over a mail room, and ends near an elevator bank. Some 150 feet in width, the eye-catching piece shows waves of primary colors that blend into pastels.

“The mural is a nice change of pace to [residents’] … routines,” says Lisa Kim, cultural affairs director of Two Trees Management, which developed Mercedes House. Instead of walking past sterile walls, a creative display guides tenants home. “That’s the beauty of art in public places.”

Momo (above), whose previous mural work has taken him across America and Europe, spent last week completing his latest commission inside the lobby of Mercedes House rental on West 54th Street.Stefano Giovannini

And Momo likes it, too. “It’s a thrill to see things function immediately,” he says of his latest masterpiece, which garnered stares from passersby immediately upon completion.

Forms of street art — like murals on building exteriors, or hastily drawn tags — were once considered eyesores or vandalism, often official crimes that damaged properties and lowered their values. But as these techniques have evolved into gallery-worthy collectibles, they’ve been embraced by a number of high-end NYC real estate bigwigs. Whether their works are inside or outside of new buildings, developers increasingly enlist artists to help their properties stand out. More than a marketing strategy, these moves help honor neighborhoods’ creative flair and improve their streetscapes.

The colorful Graffiti House.Max Touhey

“Instead of a building that whitewashed the area, we thought it’d be a cool idea to incorporate art into the project,” says Brett Harris of AKI…

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