Lark Street group fills job

TIM O'BRIEN Staff Writer
Section: Capital Region,  Page: B4

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2007

ALBANY - Michael Weidrich had already been chosen to be honored by the Lark Street BID for his volunteer work when the business improvement district decided to take it a step further by hiring him.

Weidrich is the BID's new executive director, but he'll still be among those honored at the annual Champagne on the Park celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the formal tulip beds in Washington Park. "It was a good recommendation to our hiring committee," said Blair Maddy, president of the BID board. "We think he is well qualified. He has built the First Friday event from the ground up to something that is very successful."

On the first Friday of each month, Albany art galleries coordinate their openings of new exhibits, drawing as many as 1,000 people.

Maud Baum, artistic director of eba Center for Dance and Fitness, said Weidrich's focus on the arts is a good match for his role promoting the neighborhood.

"He has a vision for Lark Street which is consistent with what we've been trying to do for the last eight or nine years," she said. "He's been successful with First Fridays, the Upstate Artists Guild. Not only does he have a vision, but he can make it happen."

Weidrich's background is a unique mix that suits Lark Street's role as the Greenwich Village of Albany: He has worked as a business consultant and organized and promoted events.

A digital artist and board member of the Upstate Artists Guild, Weidrich will also continue in his role as manager of the Romaine Brooks Gallery inside the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council building at 332 Hudson Ave.

"I've already been very active in the community ... in coordinating First Fridays between the Lark Street and downtown BIDs," he said. "It just seemed a perfect fit with my background to get in here and get more involved."

A Buffalo native, Weidrich has been an Albany resident for five years. He lives in the Center Square neighborhood.

"My heart is in Center Square," he said.

Some 200 business and property owners belong to the Lark Street BID. It covers Lark Street starting at Washington Avenue and continues onto Delaware Avenue up to Price Chopper, and also runs from Madison to State Street on Willett Street.

Besides First Friday, Lark Street is also the scene of the annual Larkfest as well as Art on Lark, which will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on June 9. A former concert series, Monday Nights in the Park, also is being revived, running for six weeks starting July 16 at the Washington Park amphitheater.

Weidrich is among five people being honored at Champagne on the Park. Other honorees are the founders of the event: Tess Collins, owner of Lark Tavern; Bill Allen, a local resident; and Charles Kuhtic, owner of the State House. Matthew Montesano of the Albany police also will be honored.

Tickets to the event are $60 and $50 in advance, which can be bought by calling the Lark Street BID at 434-3861.

In his new role, Weidrich said he hopes to work closely with neighborhood association leaders.

"I have a very deep commitment to the arts of the region, but I also have great experience in business," he said, "so I can marry the two here because art is such an integral part of the district."

Tim O'Brien can be reached at 454-5092 or by e-mail at