KMFA 89.5, a classical radio station that even its president acknowledged is unknown to parts of Austin, will soon be much more visible.

The public radio station purchased and will move into a permanent studio next year in a new mixed-use development on Lady Bird Lake in East Austin.

This is the first time since it was established in 1967 that the station will have a permanent home rather than leasing a space. Its new 18,000-square-foot freestanding building will be in a new development next door to the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center just east of Interstate 35 on the north side of the lake. The development will also feature housing for seniors, retail, office space and market rate apartments.

Ann Hume Wilson, president and general manager of KMFA, said the move is part of a greater evolution for the station.

“There are people in the population that have never heard of KMFA because we've been such sort of hidden, low-profile organization,” Wilson said. “This is going to change in our new space. We will really be able to draw people in to engage them.”

As more consumers listen to music on their smartphones and through streaming services, fewer are listening to traditional radio, Wilson said. The station's leaders began to put together a plan for how to better engage with the community, Wilson said. Part of that meant finding a new home closer to the heart of the city and that was equipped to host events. The new building will include a 140-seat event space.

“(We realized) radio was changing and KMFA needed to change along with it,” Wilson said.

She said the event space was “part of what we see as essential to our growth and sustainability.”

Wilson said KMFA looked to the model set by KUT/KUTX’s move into the Belo Center for New Media on the University of Texas campus in 2012. The Austin National Public Radio affiliate transitioned from its windowless offices in Communications Building B at UT into a state-of-the-art space that included a 72-seat studio for live performances.

But KMFA struggled for several years to figure out if moving was even possible. The decision was made afer the station received an $3 million bequest from an anonymous donor, Wilson said.

“Receiving a gift of that size – it was almost like a like a sign that, ‘yes we can do that,’” Wilson said. “This anonymous donor loved us enough to leave us this incredible gift, and this is paving the way for us to do what we need to do for our future.”

Austin-based commercial real estate firm Southwest Strategies Group, one of several companies involved with the development, worked with KMFA to adapt an existing building design to fit its needs.

“It's exciting for us to be able to give them a new home. And this is a real major move for them,” said John Rosato, a principal with Southwest Strategies. “This is an opportunity to own their own space. So I imagine they'll be in this location for another 50 years.”

The KMFA building is set to open in late summer 2020, and groundbreaking on the building is next month.

“It’s going to transform us,” Wilson said. “People will see us, and we will be visible in a way that we never have before.”