ROGERS PARK — An organization that has built 33 artist-centric developments across the country has begun a process to bring an artist live-work space to the neighborhood.
The Rogers Park Business Alliance has commissioned nonprofit Artspace to study what it would take to open a building devoted to artists' studios and living space.
"Our hope is to create artist live-work space in Rogers Park," said Sandi Price, the business alliance's executive director. "We feel like there is a need."
The Artspace project providing artists with a place to live and work is inching forward through the red tape in Rogers Park:
Rogers Park, home to the Glenwood Ave Art District, has for years been a hotspot for working and amateur artists.
But the sort of development proposed by neighborhood business officials is unprecedented.
In Chicago, Artspace developed the Switching Station Artist Lofts in East Garfield Park in 2003, which cost $5.3 million and offered 24 units. The organization's suburban Elgin location cost $15.2 million to develop and offered 55 units.
"I think it’s a marvelous thing," Kathleen Paluch, founder of the Rogers Park Greenleaf Art Center, said of the Artspace plan. "Any art venue in the neighborhood we always support. We are here in Rogers Park because it’s such a creative place — it always has been."
Paluch's center offers 50 artist studios, which are all occupied, she said.
She said if Artspace's development was ever built, it would fill a need for some artists.
"Different people have different processes. Some people need to go to a place for creating their art and separate it from their house," she said.
Rogers Park artist Michael Pollard said the Artspace plan was a "great idea," but also would be costly in a neighborhood hit by hard economic times.
"How are you going to pull that off?" said Pollard, who works from his basement studio. "Everybody wants to do these things for the artists, but that’s a lot of money."
The business alliance's Price said the cost of the project and funding had yet to be identified, adding that the proposal was in its early stages and a community meeting Thursday would help organizers measure public interest in the project.
Price also said several possible locations for the development had been identified, including the empty lot at Howard Street and Ashland Avenue and the empty lot in the 1200 block of West Pratt Boulevard. The development could also focus on a reuse of an existing building, she said.
The community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Eugene Field Elementary School, 7019 N. Ashland Ave.