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Artspace on track for July opening

Part of the third floor is taking shape on the Artspace Hastings Lofts project. Construction is expected to finish in July. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)

The third and final floor is starting to take shape at the top of the new Artspace Hastings Lofts building on the east end of downtown. Thanks to a milder winter and pre-project assessments, construction work is progressing right on time.

"Things are going very smoothly on construction," said project manager Becky Carlson St. Clair.

Construction crews were aware of many site issues before work started, she explained, so there weren't many surprises once they got into the ground. And, she added, potential issues are less likely once a project gets out of the in-ground phase, as Artspace now has. The original timeline for the project had it finishing this July.

"That's still a comfortable time for us," Carlson St. Clair said.

The project features 37 live/work affordable apartments designed with artists in mind. There's also an art gallery on site, some outdoor living and performance spaces, and one corner reserved for public commercial use.

Although the opening is still months away, Artspace is already taking pre-applications for some units. So far, the response has been encouraging.

"We feel really good about it," said Erika Dani, who is coordinating leasing for the site. "I think it's a good response for a smaller city outside of a metro area."

"We've been pleasantly surprised in the response," Carlson St. Clair added.

Pre-applications are basic "one-pagers" that help Artspace determine some basic eligibility criteria for potential residents. One of those eligibility requirements is income qualification; as affordable housing, Artspace Hastings Lofts must meet certain IRS requirements, including income restrictions.

The pre-application isn't the last step for hopeful residents. A second stage in the application process is only open to those who clear the pre-application.

"Then they go on to the artist selection committee," Dani explained.

The artist selection committee will ask prospective residents questions. Carlson St. Clair stressed that the committee selection process isn't a juried process and the committee won't be looking for particular types of artists.

"We have a very broad definition of artist," she said.

Rather, they want to find people who are committed and passionate about their art and will be involved in various activities and events within the building.

"Ideally, these are active buildings," Carlson St. Clair said.

That's also why the grand opening hasn't yet been scheduled. Carlson St. Clair said there will be an open house, but Artspace typically waits about six months after the building is fully leased before holding it. That way, she said, resident artists have time to get settled and a chance to present some of their work to the public.

"It's more about the people in the building than the building itself," she said.

Still room for more

Dani and Carlson St. Clair said that there's still time for interested people to fill out pre-applications. Information about leasing is available on the project website, artspace.org/hastings.

And, there's still room in the commercial corner. Located right at the corner of Second and Tyler streets, the 2,000-square-foot spot has not yet been leased, Carlson St. Clair said. Artspace is looking to fill it with one or more (the space can be subdivided) commercial type uses that have some sort of artistic focus, whether directly or indirectly.

"We try to look at, again, who's going to be there and how it contributes," she said.

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