Artists hit with escalating studio rent

Artists in the 190 Prior Street studios (formerly 901 Main) may be forced to leave the building as early as June 1 due to an unexpected rent increase.

The artists have been in prolonged negotiations with the building’s owner, Amacon, which plans to convert the site into high-end apartments. In March 2008, Amacon reached an agreement with the city whereby it would offer the artists first dibs on a minimum of 5,000 square feet of studio space to be built on an old brewery site at 299 East 7th Avenue. So far, however, the artists and the developer have not been able to reach an agreement on rental costs for the proposed new studios.

Now, according to artist Eri Ishii, Amacon has dramatically raised the rent at 190 Prior, where the artists are paid up to the end of May.

“Our lease expired at the end of March, and they wanted about 70 percent more than what we’ve been paying,” she said. According to Ishii, the artists have been paying $1 a square foot for a total of 5,000 square feet of studio space, but Amacon now wants to add fees for the common area, which makes up 2,000 square feet.

“We thought that they [Amacon] would be just happy to keep the building occupied,” said Ishii, who added the artists offered to increase their rent by 24 percent but have not heard back. “We don’t want to be unreasonable, but we can’t afford it [the 70-percent rent increase],” she added.

Calls to Amacon were not returned.



Nocama doogon

May 28, 2009 at 9:57pm

Amacon has made a lot of money in the development game in Vancouver over the past twenty years, but as construction has ground to halt due to lack of liquidity, they see the artists as a partial income generator.
Yes a 70% increase is a lot, but the artists need to also consider what the market rents are in the area.
If they are currently underpaying because of Amacon's largess or because it gave them brownie points with City Hall when applying for development permits is moot, there are many other owners of underutilized properties in that area where I am sure that owners would be happy to sign short term leases as long as the property taxes are paid.
All is takes is an ad in the newspaper.