By the end of 2017, Mesa will be home to about 50 new units of artist live/work space, created through a partnership with Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that specializes in art-friendly residential developments.
The City of Mesa invited Artspace to explore creating an artist live/work space development in Mesa during 2012, and Mesa City Council just gave the formal go-ahead for the project, which will break ground late in 2016.
Mesa City Council voted unanimously at its February 8 meeting to enter into development and purchase/sale agreements with Artspace Projects and Artspace Mesa.
The vote followed a study session on the subject of Artspace, which featured presentations by Rebecca Robinson, director of property development for Artspace, and Natalie Lewis, deputy city manager for the City of Mesa.
“We’re all in with Artspace, as a City Council and City staff,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said during the study session. “We’re very enthusiastic and very supportive.”
Under the purchase/sale agreement, Artspace Mesa is purchasing 1.7 acres of land from the City of Mesa for $1. (Yes, $1. That amount means the land transfer is technically not a donation.) The development agreement specifies that the land will be used for affordable live/work space “with a tenant selection preference for artistically creative individuals.”
The move cultivates years of Artspace conversations and planning sessions involving the City Council, City staff, community leaders, local artists and neighbors of the future development. Artspace says it interviewed more than 660 artists in and beyond Mesa during the planning phase.
Mesa Artspace Lofts will be located at 155 South Hibbert, just a few blocks from Mesa Arts Center. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $13.5 million.
It’s being developed by Artspace Projects in partnership with the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) in Mesa, which is a nonprofit that helps to create and fund private/public partnerships.
Project partners include not only the City of Mesa, but also Mesa Arts Center and Mesa Arts & Culture Department. They’re exploring ways of engaging Artspace residents with local arts and culture resources, as well as local schools.
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The mixed-use development, designed by Phoenix-based Architectural Resource Team, will comprise 71,000 square feet – including commercial space and community space at street level. There will be space for performances, exhibitions, educational programs, and creative business activities.
The three-story development will include up to 50 residential units including studios as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom live/work spaces. They’ll be priced at 30, 40, 50, and 60 percent of the area's median income.
“To be eligible, artists must be able to show that they participate in, and are committed to the arts,” according to David Crummey, community development real estate specialist with NEDCO. “Applicants need not derive their income from their art.”
Crummey says applications for live/work space will be available about six months before the development is completed, and he estimates that Mesa Artspace Lofts will open sometime during the summer of 2017. Preference will be given to downtown Mesa artists.