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Chris Bonnell

What’s Happening in The League’s  Alexandria Spaces?

The Art League operates in two facilities in Old Town Alexandria:

  • 6,996 square feet of rental space in the Torpedo Factory Art Center
  • 19,734 square feet of rental space in the Montgomery Center

Torpedo Factory Art Center

The Art League’s gallery, three classroom studios, art supply store, and administrative headquarters are in the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  The Art League (TAL) is the longest and largest single tenant in the art center, occupying studio spaces on the first and second floors.

The Art League and other galleries and organizations currently leasing at the Torpedo Factory Art Center are not a part of the current artist Open Call / re-jury process. The public Open Call for Resident Artists is specifically designed for resident and pro tempor artists, not for galleries or organizations. It is expected that, soon, the Office of the Arts will develop a re-evaluation system for galleries and arts organizations, including TAL.

Office of the Arts statement: “The reason for doing a re-evaluation of galleries and arts organizations is similar to the reason for re-jurying artists; to ensure the highest quality art programs at the Art Center and to match or exceed best practices in the industry.”

As of April 2022, The Art League has signed a Lease Extension, with the new term being April 1–September 30, 2022. TAL will then get a one-year lease starting on October 1, 2022.  As with other unjuried tenants, TAL will get year-to-year leases. Once a re-evaluation process is created, the City may extend that lease term.

The Office of the Arts has not made an official statement regarding a space move within the art center for The Art League. TAL will likely maintain the same space and footprint in the factory for the next 18 months (extension plus one-year lease).

The Art League is honored to be a foundational tenant of the Torpedo Factory.  TAL recognizes that it is an extraordinary privilege to be able to serve its community and educational mission in the art center.  TAL is committed to pursuing its tenancy and artistic role in the Torpedo Factory.

Montgomery Center

The Montgomery Center, current home to The Art League’s Madison Annex with its 14 classroom studios, was sold in 2021. TAL operates in its original footprint under its existing lease. The new owner, Carr Companies, will be undertaking a large-scale redevelopment project with the property. In a concept plan filed with the City of Alexandria, Carr will replace the commercial building known as Montgomery Center with 360 residential units, retail and arts components, and an underground parking garage.

Madison Annex Redevelopment Timeline / Lease Status

  • Carr, our new landlord, started the redevelopment entitlement process with the City in January 2022.
  • They anticipate breaking ground on the new building towards the end of 2023.
  • They anticipate that the construction of the new building will take approximately 24 months.
  • Up until the start of construction activities, the building operation will remain unchanged, and The Art League will continue its tenancy.
  • Although details are not available yet, TAL may be able to lease new space once the redevelopment is complete.

New Space Opportunities

Old Town North Arts District

The Alexandria City Council has approved the establishment of an Arts and Cultural District in Old Town North. As part of the Old Town North Small Area Plan, the Arts and Cultural District designation provides incentives to create arts and cultural spaces. The small area plan identifies TAL as an arts and cultural anchor in the neighborhood and establishes definitions for future ground floor arts and cultural tenant space in the district.

The Art League is working with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership to identify new Old Town North Arts District redevelopment projects interested in TAL tenancy and exploring funding and resource development strategies for new arts spaces. One possible model uses the local Industrial Development Agency (IDA) as a financing resource.  An IDA will typically issue tax-exempt bonds to organizations to help them finance the acquisition and/or construction of certain facilities. The IDA retains title to the property, but the organization is responsible for servicing the debt. The IDA and the organization enter into a lease or mortgage. The organization makes the lease or mortgage payments to the IDA, and at the same time, the IDA makes the debt service payments on the bonds. Because an IDA is a government agency, the interest income received by the holder of an IDA bond is exempt from federal, state, and local income taxes. This tax-free status allows the IDA to issue bonds at interest rates lower than other financing arrangements available to the organization. In this model, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership would provide additional support through professional services for arts groups moving into the arts district.

Muse

The Art League has secured approximately 5,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of Carr Companies’ new Muse development in Alexandria’s Old Town North Arts District. TAL would function as an arts anchor in the project, providing creative activation. TAL’s Muse project drawings have been submitted to the City for permits. While this new space would not be a replacement solution for TAL’s existing facilities, it will provide an exciting and valuable opportunity to be a foundational tenant in the new Old Town North Arts District. The project will also be a stable presence and programming space while TAL addresses evolving facilities needs in Alexandria.

How The Art League Community Can Help

Funding & Advocacy

As you may know, The Art League has been seeking support with pandemic recovery funding for the last two fiscal years. TAL has set a parallel objective of building resources for future facilities concurrent with this GOS funding.  At this time, TAL has a 500k goal for this stage of the campaign as we learn more about the future of our existing facilities and pursue new space opportunities.

As we move forward with our facilities planning, we will be reaching out periodically to our community with specific updates, questions, feedback, and requests for support. If you are interested in receiving these updates and learning more about facilities initiatives, you can sign up for email alerts

Your help is needed to support The Art League’s future!

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