Preliminary Feasibility Study

Looking to explore an Artspace live/work, multi-use development in your community? 

The Preliminary Feasibility Study is the first step towards an Artspace live/work, multi-use, or other arts facility development. 


A two-day Preliminary Feasibility Visit by two Artspace Consulting staff kicks off the study. As part of this fact-finding process, the consulting team meets with artists, city officials, funders, and other stakeholders. Artspace looks at multiple buildings and sites to start visualizing the project and holds a public meeting to listen to the community and generate buzz. The six areas of consideration during the study are:

  • Alignment with Broader Community Goals
  • Local Leadership
  • Funding and Finance
  • Potential Sites
  • Arts Market
  • Project Concept


Who might benefit

  • City governments and civic organizations
  • Arts & cultural organizations
  • Downtown organizations


What is included

  • Consulting time in preparation for the visit which includes a review of past studies, invitation lists, agenda, and potential building/sites.
  • Original Artspace materials to assist in preparing and sharing information regarding the visit.
  • A two-day visit to facilitate focus groups, tour potential sites, hear from the local community, and present at a public meeting.
  • Written Preliminary Feasibility Report with Artspace’s findings, recommended next steps, and helpful tools to strengthen the creative sector in a given community. 


Feasibility Visit Case Studies

In 2013, the Knox Heritage, City of Knoxville, arts community, and real estate development community engaged Artspace to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study to determine how best to the leverage the city’s cultural assets to strengthen the community’s social fabric. Artspace determined Knoxville had great potential for a successful creative space development project: a growing downtown and artist demand for space. 

Utilizing the information that Artspace compiled, Knox Heritage went on to open working studio space in conjunction with its Salvage Shop preservation program (which accepts donated historic building materials and select vintage items to prevent them from going to the landfill). The Salvage Shop Studios have successfully provided artists with affordable studio space, at $1 per square foot, since opening; while simultaneously providing  Knox Heritage an income stream and increased foot traffic. In 2015, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Salvage Shop moved to a larger space which includes retail, a woodshop, a gallery wall, and a showroom.


In 2011, the City of Pueblo and the Pueblo Arts Alliance invited Artspace to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study, to determine if the Colorado Building, a former downtown theater/department store, could be adaptively reused as a mixed-use project with affordable live/work space, working studios, and commercial and/or performance spaces. Artspace conducted focus groups with local stakeholders, providing the tools to understand the process of a real estate project, and engaged with the Alliance Board around financial models and potential next steps. Ultimately, the scale of The Colorado Building was too large, but Artspace's engagement laid the groundwork for continued conversations.

In 2012, the Pueblo Creative Corridor became a state-certified Creative District, managed by the Alliance, which gave access to the State of Colorado's Creative District Community Loan Fund. With this and other support, the Alliance purchased a renovated, two-building complex with outdoor plaza in 2015. Within six months,  20 studio spaces were fully leased by 40 working artists. Though the final outcome of Artspace's study did not include The Colorado Building or an Artspace development, the Pueblo Art Alliance credits Artspace with helping to build local momentum to realize the resulting project.


In 2011, Artspace received an invitation from Creative Portland Corporation, a city-affiliated nonprofit, to analyze the landscape of Portland’s creative industries and access to space, and to provide technical assistance to address the problem of vanishing affordable space. In addition to rising prices, artists were having trouble identifying suitable spaces to begin with. In a conversation with Andy Graham, Creative Portland’s founding Board President, a local realtor bemoaned the great amount of effort to help artists find studio space in relation to the relatively small renumeration they received. The two wondered if Creative Portland could help make the process more efficient and mutually beneficial, so as to prevent an exodus of Portland’s creative community. Artspace noted that, despite gentrification, there were nevertheless pockets of underutilized property throughout the city that could benefit from a creative facility in their midst.

Creative Portland’s connection to the city, and strong support from local leadership, led Artspace to explore the possibility of a live/work development in Portland. Artspace provided technical assistance and consultation for the creation of Creative Spaces, a subsidiary nonprofit of Creative Portland, which launched in 2013. Today, it serves as an online clearinghouse to easily connect creatives looking for affordable space with landlords and owners.


In 2004, the City of Buffalo invited Artspace's Consulting team to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study around the redevelopment of the vacant historic Buffalo Electric Vehicle Company factory, which was built in 1911 and played a role in the once thriving automobile industry. Artspace's study showed that a new affordable home for the arts could positively impact the economically depressed Midtown Neighborhood could both jumpstart economic revitalization and help bridge a historic racial divide. 

Today, Artspace Buffalo Lofts, which opened in 2007 in partnership with Belmont Shelter Corporation, provides 60 units of affordable housing for artists and their families, with 36 in the previously vacant factory and 24 in six newly constructed fourplexes, built on vacant land behind the factory. The project also includes commercial space, a gallery, and the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, which offers after-school visual arts programs for at-risk urban high school students and health sciences career training for under-employed and unemployed adults. 

Artspace Buffalo Lofts 

In 2013, the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council (HPAAC) and the City of Hastings invited Artspace to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study to look at the space needs of artists living and working in the Hastings and Prescott River Valley area. Artspace’s study uncovered an interest in a variety of spaces that would serve artists and creative industries in Hastings, as well as local artists needing affordable artist housing.  Though Hastings is a small town, at 25,000 residents, it was close enough to the Twin Cities to have a significant artist market.

After the Arts Market Study was completed in 2014, a site was identified for a new construction, mixed-use housing in the heart of Hastings’ historic downtown and along the Mississippi River. Artspace Hastings River Lofts was opened to the public in 2018. The project includes 37 affordable live/work units for artists and their families, 2,060 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and a 1,600-square-foot resident gallery. It also features 3,000 square feet of programmable outdoor community and event green space with spectacular views of the St. Croix River Valley. The project is part of a larger redevelopment effort throughout downtown Hastings and its accompanying Riverfront Renaissance movement, which includes streetscape improvements and the renovation of Levee Park, featuring an amphitheater pavilion, children's music area, a walking labyrinth, and picnic areas, just steps from the project.

 Artspace Hastings River Lofts 

In 2012, the City of Mesa and the Mesa Arts Center invited Artspace to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study, specifically to address the lack of affordable living space for the local and regional arts community. Artspace’s primary goal was to identify candidate neighborhoods, buildings, or land for further study should the project move forward. Several sites located in the downtown core and other existing or planned arts/cultural assets were evaluated for a future project that would help address the space needs of small creative businesses as well as artists and their families. The study found that Mesa was in a unique position to advance an affordable artist live/work project in the downtown area due to the construction of the then new light rail line connecting Mesa to Phoenix and Tempe.  Ultimately, the Arts Market Survey indicated a strong demand for affordable artist space and a city-owned site was identified, close to the new Light Rail Line and the Mesa Arts Center.

Artspace’s partnership with NEDCO, a local Community Development Financial Institution, the local LISC office, Phoenix LISC, the Mesa Arts Center and the City of Mesa were the strength behind the success of this initiative. This public/private partnership is a hallmark of Artspace’s success in communities throughout the U.S.

The Mesa Artspace Lofts opened in 2018 and includes 50 units of live/work space for artists and their families. Unit rents serve households between 30% and 60% of area median income levels. The Mesa Artspace Lofts contributes to the renaissance of a walkable, transit-oriented downtown Mesa and the East Valley as a destination for the arts and innovation.

Mesa Artspace Lofts