There is a lot of concern in Lakewood about development happening too quickly in the city, but some projects take deliberate time to ensure everything is done right.
The Artspace affordable housing development, which has been in the works since …
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The Artspace affordable housing development, which has been in the works since 2013.
“We’re still as excited about the project as we were when we started,” said Bill Marino, chair of the 40 West Arts District. “We’re eager to get to the next step to bringing this project to our city.”
The last major update came in April 2015, when City Council unanimously approved the signing of a letter of agreement with Artspace to begin the process of selecting a site for the facility to be built.
Entering into this contract with Artspace means working with the group on three predevelopment phases: selection of city-owned property at 1290 Harlan, design and financial analysis, and financing and fundraising. The city’s cost for the agreement was $600,000, to be taken from the Economic Development Fund. That money comes from taxes on hotel and motel accommodations in the city.
“It’s a long process, and there are a lot of players,” said Nanette Neelan, Lakewood’s deputy city manager. “There’s a lot of responsibility to make sure the site and project can work.”
Artspace is currently doing its due diligence on the 1290 Harlan site, looking at issues like drainage, parking and other foundational components.
Financing is also a key issue, and so Artspace is aiming to have an application ready for Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) funds during the organizations 2018 application process.
“Most organizations don’t get these funds the first time they apply for them,” Neelan said. “As part of our agreement, Artspace has five years to apply for the CHFA funding.”
The process of bringing Artspace to Lakewood has included a feasibility study, conducting surveys of the community (both artistic and non) and working with groups like the 40 West Arts District and Metro West Housing Solutions.
Artspace mainly takes existing spaces that are not being used, and reworks them to be galleries, theaters and studios and apartments were artists can live and work. They have done work in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. They are currently wrapping up a project in Loveland.
“The fact that council unanimously approved this agreement is sign that Lakewood is ready for this kind of project,” Marino said. “It’s a process, yes, but it’s going strong.”
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