Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Property purchase advances Artspace development project downtown

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 3:21 PM

click to enlarge Artspace developments provide opportunities for artists and their families to live and work in an affordable, collaborative community. - COURTESY ARTSPACE
  • Courtesy Artspace
  • Artspace developments provide opportunities for artists and their families to live and work in an affordable, collaborative community.

As Rocky Mountain PBS has now moved from its location at 315 E. Costilla St. to its new center of operations at Colorado College, many see potential in its former building, which has been a hub for arts and media under RMPBS (which continues to operate in partnership with with KRCC and the CC Journalism Institute). Now, it looks as though the site may be the key to establishing multi-use, affordable housing for artists near the downtown core.

The Downtown Partnership announced Oct. 23 that, with funds from the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority (CSDDA) and investments by the John and Margot Lane Foundation and the GE Johnson Foundation, the property has been purchased for $1.8 million. The goal: To turn the former Tim Gill Center into an Artspace development.

Artspace, an organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has set up affordable artist housing and studio space across the nation, including developments in Loveland and Trinidad. In 2015, the Colorado Springs Creative Collective began looking into a possible collaboration with Artspace to provide affordable live/work space to creatives in the Pikes Peak region, many of whom struggle to find housing and studio space as the cost of living in Colorado Springs rises. Each Artspace development is different, catered to the needs of the community, and for a long time no one knew for sure what Colorado Springs’ Artspace may look like.

Partners on the project conducted a feasibility study in 2017, and conducted a survey of local creatives to gauge public interest. That same year, the board of directors of the CSDDA pledged to commit up to $750,000 to bring Artspace to Colorado Springs. At that point, the project entered its third of four phases, the pre-development phase, “which involves obtaining a site, designing the project, and finalizing the financial model to allow the project to obtain competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and other sources common to affordable housing development,” the CSDDA said in a press release at the time. “This phase of the project is expected to take one-and-a-half to two years, after which, if successful, Artspace will move toward construction and opening.”
News on the Artspace project has been quiet since then, as the organizations involved in this project have worked toward acquiring those sources of funding and exploring site and architectural options. Though the statement asserts that the project will and must continue to seek investors, the CSDDA and Artspace secured investment from the two foundations to purchase the Costilla property while the rare opportunity presented itself.

The purchase represents “the most tangible step forward to make affordable housing for creatives a reality in our Downtown,” said Susan Edmondson, the Downtown Partnership’s president and CEO, in an Oct. 23 statement. “Through the incredible generosity and innovative approach of these two foundations, we’re well on our way.”

Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog mischaracterized the relocation of RMPBS. It has been updated to clarify and correct the error.

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