Mesa Artspace Lofts will open in June 2018, says Heidi Zimmer, senior vice president for property development with Artspace. The development will include up to 50 affordable housing units designed for artists and other creatives.
Artspace is a Minnesota-based nonprofit real estate development firm that specializes in affordable live/work spaces for artists. It's 2016 year-end review noted 46 projects in 19 states. This is the first Artspace development planned for Arizona.
Back in 2012, Artspace began working with the City of Mesa to explore the possibility of bringing an Artspace development to the city. And it partnered with a Mesa-based nonprofit called Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO), which works to catalyze economic development in metro Phoenix communities.
Artspace conducted a six-month market survey of art space needs in and around Mesa, and held five community meetings to gather input on the possible project. More than 660 artists weighed in during the process, Zimmer says.
This month, Mesa Artspace Lofts reaches a significant milestone.
Its ceremonial groundbreaking at 155 South Hibbert in downtown Mesa happens on Wednesday, May 24.
Mesa Artspace Lofts will include up to 50 units of live/work space for artists and their families. Artspace defines the term "artist" broadly to include both visual and performance artists, as well as those working in creative fields such as architecture and design.
The development will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, in addition to studios. Pricing has yet to be announced, but units will be priced below 60 percent of area median incomes. Resident applications are not yet available.
Mesa Artspace Lofts will also have 1,450 square feet of ground-floor commercial space for nonprofit arts organizations and creative businesses. And it will include 2,900 square feet of community space for events, exhibitions, and educational programs.
The total estimated cost for the project is $15.8 million.
It’s part of a larger City of Mesa effort to revitalize the downtown area, says Augie Gastelum, executive director for NEDCO. Those efforts included creating the Mesa Arts Center, whose officials have taken part in helping to move the Mesa Artspace project forward.
But Mesa has undertaken additional revitalization efforts, from welcoming a light rail extension that travels along its Main Street downtown to commissioning artists to create murals on downtown buildings. Internationally renowned artist El Mac painted a mural with Mesa artist Mando Rascon at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in 2016.
Efforts to bring an ASU campus to downtown Mesa were thwarted in 2016, when Mesa residents failed to approve a tax increase that would have helped to fund it. But discussions about possible City of Mesa and ASU partnerships are still underway, says Mesa mayor John Giles.
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For Zimmer, Mesa is an ideal Artspace location.
“Mesa has a rich and diverse arts community, along with several creative businesses downtown,” Zimmer says. “There’s strong leadership and community engagement at the local level.”
The free Mesa Artspace Lofts groundbreaking ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24. Members of the public are welcome. Find details on the Mesa Artspace Lofts website.