By ABBEY SOUKUP
Originally published on April 7, 2023, through The Gazette.
Construction was launched Friday on an apartment project in downtown Colorado Springs that supporters say would provide sorely needed, low-cost housing for the city's arts community. The 51-unit Artspace apartments, being developed by a Minneapolis nonprofit of the same name, will be built at 315 E. Costilla St. at the site of the former home of Rocky Mountain PBS and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado.
"As we face rapidly rising rent and home costs we need a broader range of housing choices for our residents throughout town, including downtown. Artspace Colorado Springs will help to address that need," said Mayor John Suthers during a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project. "As downtown continues to grow, it's important that our artists and creatives are able to live and thrive in Colorado Springs." Suthers cited a 16% growth increase in projects consisting of small businesses, galleries, hotels and restaurants that have been completed or are in progress, in 2023.
"More resources went into this project than any other project we’ve worked on in Colorado," said Artspace's vice president of consulting, Wendy Holmes. "It's great to be in such a large community and a community that’s appreciative of both affordable housing and the creative sector, and what that means."
Thousands of new apartments have been built, are under construction, or are planned in downtown Colorado Springs, including 2,000 that are expected to be completed by 2024. But the Artspace project promises a different type of housing in the area, its supporters say.
As envisioned, the Artspace project would target artists, graphic designers and others in the arts community. Rents will be priced to serve tenants who make 60% or less of the area's median household income; as a result, Artspace tenants will pay hundreds of dollars less than Colorado Springs' average monthly rent, which at one point last year topped $1,570, according to a University of Denver report. And though Artspace apartments will be open to anyone who qualifies under the income restriction, the project's supporters hope that members of the arts community will take advantage of the lower cost rents.
"Colorado Springs has a creative vitality index score of 6, which means we have 6 times the national average of creative activity — nonprofit arts groups, creative industries, enterprises, grant-making — all the things it takes to have a vibrant city center," said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of both the Downtown Partnership advocacy group and the Downtown Development Authority, which promote downtown development. "It’s important to ensure our creatives have a home here."
As planned, a 3,245-square-foot portion of a two-story building along Costilla Street will be demolished. A 1928, Spanish-style, 2,500-square-foot portion of the existing building would be preserved, renovated and combined with a newly built, five-story building. When completed, the project will feature 51 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 7,500 square feet of community and commercial space. That space could become home to artist studios and galleries or provide offices for nonprofit organizations.
According to Edmondson, construction will begin this month and continue through this year and into the next. She said developers are hoping to have spaces available to rent near the end of 2024. Potential applicants will be able to join a wait list on the property's website. Edmondson said that portal will open at the tail-end of the project.
Read the article at: gazette.com/premium/low-cost-housing-creatives-artists-downtown-colorado-springs/article_8536192c-d4ef-11ed-b66f-334ad11fde73.html