Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts and its companion project, the Historic West Side School, owe their existence to the persistence of Mary Becht, former Director of the Broward County Division of Cultural Affairs. In 1998, Ms. Becht invited Artspace to investigate the potential creation of an affordable mixed-use facility that would preserve and restore the Historic West Side School, one of Fort Lauderdale’s four original school buildings.
The school occupied part of a 13-acre site in the Sailboat Bend neighborhood, about a mile west of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Although the property was sold to a private developer, Lennar Homes, the community persuaded civic leaders and Lennar to include housing for artists in its redevelopment plans so that Sailboat Bend would retain its unique character as an arts district.
Completed in late 2007, the Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts now provide 37 affordable live/work units for artists and their families, plus a spectacular three-story community room where artists hold meetings, exhibitions, lectures, and other events. Next door, the renovated Historic West Side School serves as a home for the Broward County Historical Commission.