Live | Work | Sell Arts Overlay Zone

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The Live | Work | Sell Zone is an overlay to the town’s existing residential zoning. It allows an owner or leasee to be an artist who lives in the home, has studio space and can sell their art from the home.

How do artists benefit?

Blacksburg’s Live | Work | Sell Zone offers a combination of financial incentives and special zoning allowances that allow artists to live, work, and sell in specific residential areas downtown. The Live | Work | Sell Zone is an overlay to the existing residential zoning and allows an owner or leasee to be an artist who lives in the home, has studio space, and can sell their art from the home.

Who is eligible for these incentives?

  1. To qualify, individuals must lease or own a single family or two-family home in the Live | Work | Sell  Arts Overlay District, and live on-site.
  2. Relocations or expansions of existing businesses do not quality. The proposed use must be for a new business.
  3. The tenant must operate an arts related business that meets the definition of a “qualified arts business” as defined below:

    “Qualified arts business” means a new business (including for profit or not-for-profit organizations) in the arts and cultural district primarily engaged in (i) presenting live performances of theatre, dance, music, or other imaginative work or (ii) producing or exhibiting physical works of art created by, or under the direction of one or more artists that are intended for unique Home is Where the Art isproduction or limited reproduction.  Museums or historic sites, the primary use of which is education, history or historic preservation, shall also qualify as qualified arts businesses.  No minimum capital investment shall be required for a qualified arts business.
  4. Meet the standards in the Town of Blacksburg’s Zoning Ordinance for the Live | Work | Sell, overlay district. (Sections 3400-3406) The following are arts related uses allowed in the district:
    • Arts Related Personal Improvement Services: Establishments primarily engaged in providing instruction in (i) the visual arts, including, but not limited to, painting, sculpting, photography and folk arts, or (ii) the performing arts including, but not limited to, music, dance, and theatre. This does not include any instruction related to tattooing or body piercing.
    • Artist Studio, Single-Artist (or "Single-Artist Studio"): A building, or portion thereof, used as a place of work by a single artist engaged in (i) the visual arts, including, but not limited to, painting, sculpting, photography and folk arts, or (ii) the performing arts, including, but not limited to, music, dance, and theatre. A single-artist studio includes the creation of work and the accessory sale of work produced only by the artist in his or her own studio. Works from other artists may not be offered for sale. This does not include a studio for tattooing or body piercing.
    • Artist Studio, Multiple-Artists (or "Multiple-Artists Studio"): A building, or portion thereof, used as a place of work by multiple artists engaged in (i) the visual arts, including, but not limited to, painting, sculpting, photography and folk arts, or (ii) the performing arts, including, but not limited to, music, dance, and theatre. A multiple-artists studio includes the creation of work and the accessory sale of work produced by multiple artists using or sharing the studio(s). Works from other artists may not be offered for sale. This does not include a studio for tattooing or body piercing.
    • Gallery A building or portion thereof, used as a place to exhibit and offer for sale the works of visual artists, including, but not limited to, painting, sculpting, photography and folk arts.

Financial Incentives

The incentives offered in the Live | Work | Sell Zone are waivers to the traditional fees a business would pay to the Town of Blacksburg. These include:

  • Full and partial waivers of Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) taxes as follows:
    • 100% rebate in year one;
    • 75% rebate in year two; and
    • 50% rebate in year three
  • Exemption from building permit fees (less 2% remitted to the state) up to a maximum of $2,000.
  • Exemption from water and sewer connection fees.
  • Exemption from any subdivision, site plan, or sediment control plan fees.
  • Exemption from sign permit fee.

What is the process for an artist to be considered?

Artists must participate in a qualification process first. Typically an individual will already have a specific property in mind or would just like to consult with staff to learn more. Once a location is reviewed and approved, there is an annual registration requirement with the Town. Contact the Planning and Building Department at 540-961-1126 to discuss next steps.

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