Incentive scheme for music venues and arts spaces to hold public hearing in May

Friday, March 22, 2024 By Chad Swiatecki

The city is working to provide creative space incentives for individual sites and properties, as well as for larger cultural districts proposed in city planning documents in recent years.

Monday’s Arts Council meeting included a presentation by Donald Jackson, business process adviser for the Department of Economic Development, about progress toward developing standardized incentives to encourage developers to create art galleries, music venues or other creative spaces in new projects. These incentives function in some ways similar to affordable housing bonuses, allowing for greater building heights and floor-to-area ratios in exchange for at least 10 years of discounted creative space.

Jackson said EDD staff are working to create a “paper zone” that would have all the necessary conditions and incentives applied to any site if a developer wants to incorporate creative uses into a particular project. Jackson said paper zones would provide flexibility without the city having to decide which areas or specific geographic areas are best suited for the inducement.

“What it does is create a process through which property owners, community groups and arts groups can basically map it to specific areas,” he said. “We want to make sure there’s a bottom-up process that people can follow rather than just trying to dictate from above, like where various creative districts should be.”

Jackson said the incentive package will be presented to the board and commissions next month, with a Planning Commission hearing scheduled for April 23 and a City Council hearing expected to be held on May 30.

Projects participating in the incentive program must provide at least 30% of the ground floor frontage to eligible creative spaces, which will be leased at 50% of market rate, with annual rate increases capped at 5%. Of the additional space allowed under the agreement, 25% must be dedicated to affordable creative uses.

The scheme will also include an in-lieu fee option that allows developers to add appropriate density without providing qualifying space – if they pay a predetermined fee to cover the cost of creating or preserving creative space elsewhere .

In order to protect or relocate a creative space affected by incentivized property redevelopment, a similar space needs to be created and the operator of the affected space needs to be given the option to lease the new space.

“We achieve these goals through land use agreements or restrictive covenants, similar to how the density bonus program works now for affordable housing — we’re just going to use it,” Jackson said. “The city will use a similar mechanism. , and establishing appropriate mechanisms for affordable creative spaces.”

As land prices and operating costs continue to rise across the city, the incentive scheme will be another tool the creative community has long sought to help music venues, theaters and other cultural spaces continue to exist. Last year, the city approved building code changes that narrowed the regulatory process for opening music venues and creative spaces across the city. The change makes hundreds of parcels of land eligible for uses that were prohibited under previous land use designations, such as bars and nightclubs.

Work is also underway to create a separate but related overlay for the Red River Cultural District, dedicated to protecting the cluster of music venues and entertainment businesses between Sixth and 10th streets, Jackson said.

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