Springs' Artspace project speeds up with Downtown Development Authority funding

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Claire Swinford of the Downtown Partnership (left) and Kate Perdoni of Pikes Peak Arts Council and the Colorado Springs Creative Collective visited the Loveland Artspace earlier this year. - COURTESY KATE PERDONI
  • Courtesy Kate Perdoni
  • Claire Swinford of the Downtown Partnership (left) and Kate Perdoni of Pikes Peak Arts Council and the Colorado Springs Creative Collective visited the Loveland Artspace earlier this year.
For the last two years, the Colorado Springs Creative Collective, a group of local artists and community stakeholders led by Bob Wolfson, has been working to establish an Artspace development in Colorado Springs. Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, creates affordable live/work space for artists across the country, with developments in Loveland and Trinidad in Colorado, plus cities in 17 other states. Following a survey to gauge public interest, results of which were released early this fall, the collective planned to move forward with an Artspace development here in town.

Now, that plan has been accelerated by involvement from the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority, which has taken the reins of the project. The board pledged unanimously to fund the entire next phase of the Artspace project — $750,000 in total.

This marks a monumental investment by a city entity in funding for the arts. Laurel Prud’homme of the Downtown Partnership says: “The [majority of] survey respondents said that their interest in this type of a property — they wanted to see it downtown. We think that makes a lot of sense, too. We know that if the DDA is able to step in with this kind of funding, that gets the ball rolling now.”

Going through a nonprofit or philanthropic funding source, she says, could take years.

To read more about what the next phase of an Artspace development may entail, and to hear the DDA’s official statement, see the full press release below.

Colorado Springs, CO – The board of directors of the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority (CSDDA) this week unanimously approved a funding commitment of up to $750,000 to support a three-stage contract to bring an Artspace project to Downtown Colorado Springs. The project, upon completion, would bring approximately 50 to 70 units of affordable housing or live/work spaces for individuals and families working in the creative industries to Downtown.

Artspace is a national nonprofit organization that delivers sustainable, affordable living and working space for individuals and families in the arts and craft industries. Artspace leads the industry with more than 35 properties and nearly 2,000 residential units specifically serving artists and creatives coast to coast, and each property remains affordable in perpetuity.

For the past two years, the effort to bring Artspace to Colorado Springs has been envisioned and led by the Colorado Springs Creative Collaborative, a group of creatives and volunteers helmed by local advocate Bob Wolfson. “The project was borne out of a proactive stance for Colorado Springs to be a community that welcomes creatives with an affordable place to work and live in the face of market changes and growth that often outprice creatives from urban areas, and sometimes from the city overall,” said Wolfson. With this week’s action, the CSDDA now takes the helm of the project.

A typical Artspace project progresses through four phases of development. In the first phase Artspace visits a community and determines the pre-feasibility of the project and whether the community is in a position to lead an effort and eventually absorb the project. The second phase is an Arts Market Survey, which was completed in Colorado Springs earlier this year. A summary of survey results can be found at www.downtowncs.com/artspace.

The project now enters the third, 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. 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.

“We are very excited with the prospect of building a new project in Colorado Springs and are thrilled to be moving into this next stage of development with such robust support and partnership from the CSDDA” said Shannon Joern, Vice President of National Advancement for Artspace.

About Artspace:
Artspace is the nation's nonprofit leader in artist-led community transformation, with more than 46 projects in operation across the country and another dozen in development, representing a unique, $600 million investment in America's arts infrastructure. With headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington D.C., Artspace is America's leading developer of arts facilities and has served as a consultant to hundreds of communities and arts organizations nationwide. To date, Artspace has completed nearly 2,000 affordable residential units and more than 300 creative businesses and working studios. Presence in Colorado includes Artspace Loveland Arts Campus, and projects in planning and development stages in Trinidad, Lakewood, Denver’s RiNo Arts District, Ridgway, and others.

About Downtown Development Authority
The CSDDA builds public and private investment partnerships that promote the physical and economic growth of Downtown Colorado Springs. Downtown property owners voted to establish the CSDDA in November 2006 to provide programs and financial support to encourage downtown development. CSDDA is governed by a board of 11 people appointed by Colorado Springs City Council. For more information visit www.downtowncs.com/DDA, or contact Downtown Colorado Springs at 719.886.0088.


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