Wain said the deal to revamp the building still hinged on securing funding from the Victorian government and Melbourne City Council and he called for their urgent support.
“With a collaborative effort we’re still hopeful we’ll have a solution to protect the artists long-term,” he said.
Tenant Dan O’Donovan, an architect, said he faced a rent increase of more than 50 per cent and that he would have to leave the building unless he could find another business to share his studio.
“It’s extreme in its quickness and [level of] increase,” he said.
“I can pack up my desk and work from home for a while but for people who have non-profits or art studios, to have their rents jacked up the month before Christmas … it’s quite brutal.”
O’Donovan feared many tenants would decide to vacate, and given the state of the building – notable for leaks, few toilets and no heating or cooling – he felt it was unlikely the spaces would be filled.
“A lot of people are outraged and walking out. The artists and sculptors and creatives could be lost to the building forever,” he said.
Milliner Louise MacDonald, a tenant for 27 years, is trying to negotiate a later departure date after her rent…