The 20-year-old Independent Publishing Resource Center is going to need a new home by April 2017, says its director A.M. O'Malley.
In April, the center received word from their landlords—Joe and Stacy Squires—that the IPRC's lower Division Street space would get a 300% rent hike, which O'Malley says is impossible for the nearly 19-year-old nonprofit to absorb. The IPRC expanded into their Division Street location in 2012 after 15 years in a much smaller westside location. Their 5-year lease will expire in April.
The IPRC is essentially a one-stop DIY center for Portland writers and self-publishers. It currently has 6,000 members and offers workshops on writing and DIY publishing, the country's largest library-coded zine library, plus publicly accessible desktop publishing, typesetting and screenprinting resources.
"We're thriving as an organization, we've grown every year. It's really just the space issue," says O'Malley, who won a 2014 Skidmore Prize from WW, in part for her work with the IPRC. "It rattles us. When they let us know what our rent increase would most likely be, we submitted a counter proposal, which they did not respond to. They said they had an offer on the table for a lot more."
According to O'Malley, Squires named the building's other tenant, brand-new brewery Grixsen, which leases the other half of the IPRC's building, as the potential future tenant—Grixsen runs a brewery and Friday-Saturday taproom out of the other side of the building.
When reached by phone, staff at Grixsen confirmed their interest in moving into the space if the IPRC vacated—but said there was no signed agreement between the brewery and landlords.
"We are looking for a new space," says the IPRC's O'Malley, "There are not a lot of great options—not a lot of options for warehouse space that's ADA-accessible with the basic needs we have."
Warehouse space, like the kind the IPRC needs to house its printing equipment, is at a premium in Portland at the moment.
In part, this is part of a broader struggle faced by many Portland arts organizations such as dance companies—which require the same open warehouse spaces needed by Portland's burgeoning beer, distillery and cannabis industries.
Related: Portland's Weed Warehouse Boom.
"Warehouse space is very hard to find," says O'Malley. "Brewers, marijuana—it's definitely impacting the rental market for nonprofits. We've looked at a couple different places that are formerly occupied by marijuana growers or where we are competing with them to make offers—and they have more money."
The IPRC has found a new prospective space they want to move into—next door to the NW Documentary nonprofit at North Williams and Tacoma, but unfortunately the space is vacant and for lease immediately—and O'Malley is worried the landlords won't let them out of their lease to take the space.
"They said they would need to ask Grixsen what they want to do," says O'Malley.
The IPRC has begun a Kickstarter to help fund their move, in hopes they're allowed to leave their lease early and move into the space on North Williams. After a little over 12 hours, the center has already received $1,765 toward their $20,000 goal to fund the move.
"[people] understand this is a huge Portland issue," says O'Malley. "I think we'll find a space, it's just a matter of having time to maybe pay increased rent, or go through the process of being closed—that's where we need the support from the community…Portland is still deciding what it wants to be when it grows up"
Here's the note the IPRC sent out to its members yesterday: