Developers Fight Efforts to Make Them Pay for Public Art

 
    “The Doors,” a walk-in kaleidoscope by the sculptor Donald Lipski in Scottsdale, Ariz. More cities are requiring real estate developers to include public art in their projects.

 

“The Doors,” a walk-in kaleidoscope by the sculptor Donald Lipski in Scottsdale, Ariz. More cities are requiring real estate developers to include public art in their projects.

 

by Daniel Grant

July 10, 2018

Real estate developers often agree to finance neighborhood improvements, like a sidewalk or a park or a bus stop, to help secure approval for their projects, but many are drawing the line in a new fight: paying for public art.

A growing effort to make developers include public art in their private projects or contribute to a public art fund is meeting angry resistance. Municipal leaders facing tight budgets are looking for alternative funding, but builders say the new ordinances are an “art tax” that increase the cost of a project.

“Among other cost drivers are the additional expense of hiring art consultants and attorneys to present proposed works to an art board,” said Truly Burton, executive vice president of the Builders Association of South Florida. “All this factors into how much someone pays in rent or a mortgage payment every month.”

Percent-for-art ordinances aimed at private developers have been growing in recent years, expanding statutes in 27 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in a variety of counties and cities and even for the federal government. These laws typically require around 1 percent of construction and renovation costs for public buildings to be set aside for the purchase of artworks for the site.

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