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200-400% rent increases driving some artists out of the downtown Las Vegas Arts District

Soaring rent is forcing some business owners to relocate.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 10:15 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A director at a fine art print shop off South Commerce and Wyoming Avenue is relocating his business after the building was sold and rent went soared dramatically.

Erik Beehn is the founder of Test Site Projects, a fine art print shop, custom frame shop and gallery. The multi-use space is located at 1551 S Commerce Street. He’s been at that space for five years, but started working out of the Arts District since 2010.

“It’s changed dramatically. It was a lot more art related businesses, art studios, sort of small creative businesses.” It’s slowly been changed to breweries, restaurants, and bars,” Beehn said.

He was notified that rent would be going up ranging from a 200-400%.

“Ultimately I kind of chuckled a little bit. I mean I knew it was coming it was only a certain amount of time of the unenviable and rent was going to be raised, but I was a little surprised it happened so quickly and so dramatically.... with so little change right like in this building and the surrounding area,” Beehn said.

According to Clark County’s property records, the building was built in 1975. In January it was sold for $1.8 million.

Beehn sees the city supporting businesses downtown, but not artist-run businesses.

“They give incentives to breweries, tax breaks and land breaks on new developments for restaurants and bars, but they don’t do any of that for the arts community,” Beehn said.

Beehn is not the only artist-run business impacted. Pricilla Fowler Fine Art Gallery was driven out of 1300 Main Street because she said rent doubled for her in February. She’s hoping to relocated to 1501 S Commerce in July.

“My hope is that the city tries to figure out a way to support people staying here. Whether that means they’re working with a specific landlord in a specific development, to subsidize those spaces to allow for artists to stay or whether it’s coming up with another program to like subsidize rent,” Beehn said.

He understands property values are going up, but if the city wants to keep art downtown, they’ll need to consider what their options are.

“I’ll miss the memories we had in this space, it was a very long process to build this space out, to prepare it for us it was a lot of hands on work we did ourselves and I think those memories feel very rich to me,” Beehn said.

Beehn said he will be relocating to a bigger space off Highland and Western by the end of the summer.