AUSTIN, Texas -- Flatbed Press said people are fascinated by their old machines making modern art in East Austin.
“Art is the fabric, makes up a lot of the fabric of Austin’s culture,” said Katherine Brimberry, owner of Flatbed Press. “Austin is home to the creative class.”
Brimberry said it was not always the case. The Flatbed Press moved to the building on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard about 20 years ago, when it was tough getting people to the neighborhood.
“Quickly, as artists started to moved over here, it changed,” Brimberry said. “It become a really interesting place to people and it became a hip place for people to live.”
According to the Travis County Appraisal District, the 18,400-square-foot building had an assessed value of $3,416,546, last year. It’s a 120 percent increase compared to 2013, when the assessed value was $1,551,118. Flatbed Press thought they could renew their lease until 2021, but now they have to move out.
“Once all the artists leave this area, and they will, if the rents aren’t preserve for them, then there won’t be anything left to bring people here to stay, or for people to even want to be here,” Brimberry said.
The building is home to artists, filmmakers, architects and other creative entrepreneurs. They all have a focus on fine arts. Tenants said there is a family feel.
“We were very happy to move in here, and we love the community here, it’s very supportive,” said Mary Baughman, chair board of directors for Austin Book Arts Center. “We’re very distressed to think we have to find a new home.”
Baughman said she is also concerned about finding a new space that will support the nonprofit’s heavy and specialized equipment.
“You can’t move it with a pickup truck,” she said.
The notice for Flatbed Press to relocate comes as the City’s Cultural Division releases reports on how the City can preserve cultural and arts clusters.
“Austin is becoming such a popular place, there’s development happening all over the city, especially in places where people want to live and work, and thats’ where a lot of creativity has blossomed,” said Meghan Wells, the Cultural Arts Division manager for the Economic Development Department. “They’re competing with developments that want to to have a place there but we also need to sustain our creative activities so that they have a long-term place in Austin.”
The two reports are “The Cultural Asset Mapping Project Report”and “Thriving in Place: Supporting Austin’s Cultural Vitality Through Place-Based Economic Development.” Recommendations include ideas for alleviating taxes and implementing incentive programs.
“I’ve now got a list of maybe 30 to 40 spaces that are really in threat of being lost completely, and we are at a point now where if we don’t act, Austin will be a much different place for our cultural community and for our residents and visitors,” Wells said.
Flatbed Press has a year to look for a new place. The lease ends February 2019.
“That’s an opportunity to change and go to another part of Austin, perhaps revitalize part of that Austin,” Brimberry said.
But, this time for the long haul.