Picture This: Soon Artists Will Have a New Space to Live and Work

September 26, 2010

Illinois will use federal tax credits to develop a community in downtown Elgin that will give starving artists a place to work and live.

Governor Pat Quinn announced that the state will use about $8.5 million in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to finance the Elgin Artspace Project, which will provide low-income housing while creating more than 100 jobs. Federal housing tax credits are a a big resource for developers to build affordable housing.

“Communities throughout the state are looking for ways to restore older buildings and revitalize downtown areas, and these tax credits are important tools that will help do just that while boosting the local economy,” said Governor Quinn. “This new development will enhance the city of Elgin and create good jobs in the area.”

The Switching Station Artists Lofts in Chicago

The Midwest non-profit organization Artspace Projects, Inc. will oversee the process of rehabbing a historic building in downtown Elgin and adding an addition that will create 55 units of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom affordable apartments with private patios and terraces.

Rents on the housing units will range from $329 to $716 a month; to qualify, a renter’s income must be at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income.

The development will have a strong focus on the arts and will include an art gallery and a landscaped courtyard showcasing local artist’s works.

“The city is proud to have been selected to receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the Elgin Artspace Project,” said Elgin Mayor Ed Schock. “Not only will Elgin Artspace provide affordable housing for artists, it will generate interest from other arts groups, and attract patrons of the arts to our community where they will support art galleries, attend performances and spend money in our restaurants and shops.”

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credits came from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The city of Elgin had applied for funding in 2009 but was denied before resubmitting in January 2010 and being accepted.

Construction on the new Artspace development is expected to begin next Spring. A second Artspace development is being planned in Waukegan, where a vacant historic hotel will be transformed into 36 affordable apartments for an artist live-work community.

Artspace’s first Chicago project, Switching Station Artist Lofts, was completed in 2003 and is located in the Garfield neighborhood on the city’s west side.

The four-year, $5.3 million project transformed the Roentgen School, 15 S. Homan, which was built in 1906 as a telephone switching station, into a live/work space for Chicago residents.

The building wraps completely around a paved courtyard in the middle of the building, which serves as a meeting place for adults and a safe place for children. The lower level of the building is used for meetings and other events, and the upper level includes affordable apartments with views of the Chicago skyline.

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