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Rogers Park 'Ripe' for Artspace Live-Work Development

  Artists work at Roman Susan Art Gallery in Rogers Park.
 Artists work at Roman Susan Art Gallery in Rogers Park.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — Although the project would be years away, Rogers Park is "ripe" for an artist live-work space featuring affordable rent, officials from the nonprofit Artspace said.

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based organization, which has built 33 artist-centric developments across the country, toured the neighborhood Thursday to see what it had to offer.

"We’re really thrilled that Rogers Park is interested in creating more artist space," said Wendy Holmes, an Artspace executive, at a community meeting. "We feel like the time might be really ripe for that."

An exact location for the development, which has not yet been funded and is only in exploratory stages, has not been determined. But other Artspace developments typically feature ground-floor businesses below housing.

Holmes said about 70 percent of Artspace development projects are funded with federal and state government resources, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, tax increment financing and historic restoration tax credits.

The rest of the development costs are collected through national and local philanthropic sources, she said.

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.

In New York City's Harlem neighborhood, Artspace is wrapping up development of a massive location featuring 90 units that has attracted heavy demand, Holmes said. She said Artspace has received 90,000 applications from artists who want to live there.

Holmes said rent for units varies from city to city, but is usually mandated by the type of funding used.

At the Switching Station Artist Lofts, rent ranges from $450 for a studio to about $1,000 for a two-bedroom, she said. At a Buffalo, New York, location, however, rents start at just $250.

But Holmes cautioned meeting attendees that new projects usually take three to seven years to complete.

Betsy Vandercook, chief of staff for Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and member of the Rogers Park Arts Alliance, said the "many artists" who live in the neighborhood would welcome Artspace.

"This is a next step to make Rogers Park one of the most artistic communities in Chicago," she said. "Hopefully this will help take us there."

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