As the official announcement was being made at the Bond Buyer conference in Los Angeles, Mayor Adler announced that the Mayor’s office had submitted one of five winning applications in the Neighborly Bonds Challenge, which called on innovative public agencies interested in offering their communities the opportunity to invest directly in local projects. Winning will allow the Mayor’s office to collaborate with Neighborly to establish a $10-million minibond to purchase and preserve iconic music venues, fulfilling one of the objectives the Mayor identified in the Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution introduced last February.

“I am excited about the possibilities that winning the Neighborly Bonds Challenge offers us. This is not a taxpayer bailout. Instead, this provides our community a way out of a problem that has hurt us deeply for generations. We have already lost clubs we will never get back, such as the Armadillo World Headquarters and Liberty Lunch, places where the Austin became the city we love today. We cannot lose these music venues without losing something that is vital to our identity and to our soul. Austin won’t be the Live Music Capital of the World if we keep losing music venues. Now, thanks to Neighborly, we have a way to do something about it,” said Mayor Adler, who envisions using Neighborly’s expertise, skill, and technology to crowdsource a $10 million investment vehicle that can create permanent affordability for music venues. “This is a creative solution for the creative class.”

Neighborly will be providing legal, administrative, marketing, and other support services with reduced or free transaction fees valued at $100,000.

“Importantly, this will require no investment, risk, or obligation of the taxpayers. Instead, this presents regular folks with an investment opportunity. Inherent in our challenges is the possibility of transformative change. What is great about the Neighborly Bonds Challenge is that it will not only help us preserve music venues but it will offer a long-term investment to those who can’t normally participate in a bond offering – again, I want to emphasize, without risking taxpayer money,” said Mayor Adler.

On the same subject in a different vein, the City of Austin Economic and Development Department has asked the Urban Land Institute in Austin to run a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) on the Red River Cultural District to examine how to preserve music and cultural venues along that corridor. The TAP will review the needs of venues, musicians, citizens, land owners and other stakeholders to provide recommendations on how to preserve what makes Austin a special home for music.  Maintaining the identity of the Live Music Capital will only be achieved through a balance of preserving music venues and market demands for housing and other commercial spaces.  ULI Austin and the City of Austin jointly will work toward providing regulatory and private market solutions to this important issue.

This all follows the progress made in the recently passed FY 2016-17 budget which included:

  • $200,000 to fund staffing and implementation of one-stop shopping at permitting/code enforcement for music/arts venues;
  • $200,000 for emergency funding to save arts venues; and
  • $75,000 for job training for musicians.