Commercial developers offer help to local art gallery
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The creative spirit in the Arts District is slipping away as artists get priced out from high rent, but two commercial developers are helping the owner of an art gallery maintain that spirit- rent free.
Priscilla Fowler moved to the Arts District in 2016. She opened her gallery, Priscilla Fowler Fine Art. She’s shuffled around locations, but her most recent space off Main Street got a lot of foot traffic.
In February her rent doubled.
“I had a three-year lease, I did have a pretty good deal on that lease but when they doubled it, it was beyond what I could consider,” Fowler said.
She searched for a new space, but that task was difficult.
”There’s a lot of vacant buildings and vacant lots and we made inquiries -I used a really good realtor that knew about commercial real-estate. She made a lot of inquiries and a lot of time people would say -oh no we’re waiting for another brewery or another restaurant cause they can pay more,” Fowler said.
Fowler signed on as a new tenant at 1501 S. Commerce Street. The property is being renovated by developers Gary Creagh Senior and Gary Creagh Junior. Since the Creagh’s recently acquired a small house off South Commerce they thought why not lend it to Fowler in the meantime?
“Having a building that’s vacant with for a for rent sign doesn’t help anybody,” Creagh Junior said.
Fowler used the money she would put for rent towards quick renovations and transformed the space to an art gallery.
“Oh I’m incredibly grateful. They seem to have a completely different attitude towards making space available for creative people than the other people,” Fowler said.
The Creagh’s started buying properties in the Arts District in April 2015.
The building they’re renovating at the corner of Utah and South Commerce is a 17,000 square foot space where nine new tenants have signed on including three art galleries.
“With the six properties that we have down here we have I think it’s 18 new businesses that will be opening up now until the end of the year. The nine that he mentioned and then we have ground up building that we’re building at Main and Colorado. We’re going to have a live music venue there, a brew pub, a tapas place and a whiskey bar,” Creagh Senior said.
Creagh Jr. said it’s a balance of making sure artists don’t get priced out of the market.
“You have to balance the artists make sure they’re not priced out of the market that they created and at the same time we can recoup our investment for fixing up all these buildings and it’s a tight rope to walk but we think it can be done by listening to the tenants and giving them time. They’re going to benefit from increased revenue when all the area is fixed up. We want them to pay more rent – I’ll be honest with you but at the same time we want them to sell more paintings and make more money we them to make more money despite having to pay more rent and it’s about walking on that tight rope and not trying to come in and go 0-100,” Creagh Jr. said.
From March to July, Fowler will be using the 1,400 square foot ‘bungalow’ rent free which is helping her business stay alive. She hopes the City of Las Vegas can take notes from other Arts Districts in cities like Austin and Salt Lake City.
“If they had looked at what other cities were doing they might’ve done some things with zoning, they might’ve taxed landlords that sat on empty properties for awhile there’s a lot that they could be doing that they just don’t know they should be doing,” Fowler said.
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