Proposal submission deadlines for vendors and restaurants applying to rent space in La Villita have been extended, and the criteria for retail submissions has been slightly broadened.
Originally, retail vendors were instructed to submit proposals to fulfill one of three categorizes mandated by the city Department of Culture and Creative Development (which oversees the historical village): Working Artist Studio Galleries, Galleries, and Retail Shops. The city has repurposed the buildings, and in the original instruction designated nine spaces for working artist galleries, eight for galleries, and five spaces for retail shops, and applicants were instructed to apply for a specific one.
Now, with the change, the department says each building is “recommended” to serve as its originally-designated purpose and that applicants “are not prohibited” from applying for one of the other two designated purposes.
Felix Padron with the DCCD said the changes come after hearing feedback from various stakeholders.
“The decision comes after we closely looked at the RFP and after having more conversations with current tenants and other stakeholders,” he said. “We’re still embracing the cluster that we originally defined, but now we’re also saying; however, if you want to submit a proposal that doesn’t fit our original cluster, you can do that too.”
La Vilitta tenants have been speaking out for months about the overall changes coming to the village, raising concerns and frustrations that they haven’t been properly communicated with in the redesign process. The city has ended all current leases at La Villita and is requiring that tenants, some who have been in the village for decades, to reapply to fit the new criteria. The current leases expire next July, but a handful of retail shop owners have already moved out.
Alice Knight, an artist who has had her own gallery at La Villita for years, and her husband Jack turned in their vacancy notice last week and the gallery has since closed. They are spending the next few weeks moving their merchandise out of the space before relocating to west Texas.
“We had to accept the fact that we could drag this out and play whatever games the city is up for playing or just move on to getting our business ready out there,” Alice said.
Jerome Stowe, whose family owns the Casa Manos Alegres folk art shop and says he will reapply for his retail space, wonders about the true intention of the deadline extension and proposal addendum.
“I don’t think it’s so much a concession, but that they realize that there’s been a poor turnout of applications,” he opined.
City officials said the number of proposals and applicants are kept confidential until the deadline. Online submissions are being received by the city Finance Department and the City Clerk office is accepting paper copies.
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