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Raleigh City Council Rejects Artspace Offer

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RALEIGH — Quality of life is a phrase that includes many things like family, neighborhoods and entertainment. All cost money, and now there is a new push to pay for the arts in North Carolina.

The building called Artspace has been a landmark in theRaleigharea for the past 13 years.

It is owned by the city and occupied by artists who show off their work from start to finish in the studio.

Now, the city wants to sell its investment for a profit, and artists are afraid they will be out after the deal closes.

Susan Phillips has been a tenant at Artspace for the past 12 years.

"Virtually from start to finish, I make all my pieces here," said Phillips.

She and the 40 other artists there make and display art free-of-charge to anyone who wants to see. She is afraid if the city sells the building, they will be booted out for tenants who can pay more.

One developer has included a five-year lease in the deal with no rent increases, but the artists want more.

"We just want to ensure that in 5 years that there is an Artspace, that there is a place for the public to come and for the artists to work," explained Phillips.

"They don't even have a lease. Did they tell you that? They do not have a lease with the city," said developer Joseph Hakan.

Hakan is willing to pay $1.2 million for the building that adjoins the city market, which he already owns. He says he has no plans to kick the artists out.

"The artists will always have top priority if they can pay the rent," said Hakan.

He also says the five-year deal is more than fair.

"We will only go for a five-year lease because we don't know what's going to happen after five years, whether the artists will even want to be there or not or if they'll have any money," explained Hakan.

Phillips thinks they will.

"Five years is just a blink of an eye," said Phillips.

Raleigh City Council members rejected the offer Monday night. They say they do want Artspace to operate privately.

Artists have 90 days to come up with a new plan.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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