Affordable live/work space for creatives
Rocky Mountain PBS building purchased with foundation assistance
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority (CSDDA) announced the recent purchase of a nearly one-acre site, a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to develop affordable artist housing in Downtown Colorado Springs, a state-certified creative district.
The property at 315 E. Costilla St. is the former home of Rocky Mountain PBS, which has relocated to Colorado College as part of an ongoing expansion of their partnership with 91.5 KRCC and the CC Journalism Institute.
Efforts to secure affordable artist housing in Downtown Colorado Springs began in 2015 through the all-volunteer group Creative Collective. The Collective engaged Minneapolis-based Artspace, the nation’s leading developer of artist housing, in a market study of the community. The study showed strong demand for affordable housing and non-residential work, commercial and community spaces for the creative sector. In 2017, CSDDA entered into a $750,000 contract with Artspace to undergo predevelopment tasks to include site control, project concepting and architectural design, financial modeling and an application to obtain competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and other sources of public/private funding and financing. Those tasks continue, and if funding is secured, the project will then commence construction.
The $1.8 million purchase of the property was made possible through a combination of CSDDA resources as well as program related investments provided by the John and Margot Lane Foundation and the GE Johnson Foundation.
“To date, this is the most tangible step forward to make affordable housing for creatives a reality in our Downtown,” said Susan Edmondson, President & CEO of Downtown Partnership, which serves as the management arm of CSDDA. “Through the incredible generosity and innovative approach of these two foundations, we’re well on our way.”
“This project is truly the manifestation of collaboration and creative capital,” said Antonio Rosendo, CEO of the Lane Foundation. “The Lane and GE Johnson foundations saw this project as an opportunity to invest in community beyond traditional grantmaking. We are excited to see the impact this project will have on our city and region.”
Jim Johnson, board chair of the GE Johnson Foundation, echoed Rosendo’s sentiment: “Our foundation is thrilled to have the opportunity to help expand affordable housing for creatives and demonstrate the various ways foundations can support community vitality.”
The purchase also achieved Rocky Mountain PBS’ goal to secure a community-serving buyer of the property. “Our mission at Rocky Mountain PBS is to strengthen the civic fabric of Colorado, and we are doing that by supporting this effort toward affordable housing for artists, who bring a sense of identity to our community and who help us connect to each other through their extraordinary storytelling,” said Amanda Mountain, President & CEO of Rocky Mountain Public Media.
Obtaining property during a time when Downtown locations are increasingly in demand was challenging. “When this site opportunity arose, we all knew it aligned well with our collective vision, but also knew it was out of reach for us to acquire at this early stage in the process,” said Will Law, COO of Artspace. “That these partners stepped in to secure it is a testament to their belief in the importance of this project and this site for the future of Downtown Colorado Springs. We are extremely grateful for their support and excited to begin the next phase of predevelopment work in earnest.”
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, and others in the planning stages in other communities.