Artspace tenants move in

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Estrella Flores doesn't have kitchen cabinet doors and there are a few boxes containing pots and pans missing, but nevertheless she is ecstatic to be moved into her Artspace Hastings loft.

"I don't mind, everything works," Flores said.

Before construction draws to a close, those finishing touches like Flores' kitchen cabinets will be added. In the meantime, Flores said she is excited to be moved in. The residential apartments are complete enough for tenants to move in. There are at least 21 units occupied so far with the remaining tenants to move in by the end of the month.

All the tenants who will live in the building have some sort of art background. There are musicians, painters, jewelry makers and more.

Flores and her 16-year-old son moved into the three-bedroom two-bath apartment Aug. 8. She is a culinary artist with strong ties to family in the business of cooking. She grew up in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul with her family running a successful Mexican restaurant. She went on to get her bachelor's degree in speech communications and chicano studies from the University of Minnesota. Then she completed her masters degree in social work.

After 17 years in the social work field, Flores decided to follow her passion for cooking. When Flores first heard about Artspace, she knew it would be a great way to support her career in the arts.

"I was just so happy for me to be able to really follow my dream and Artspace is allowing me to do that so I think that's just great," Flores said.

Residents of Artspace had to meet certain requirements when they applied to live in the building. There was also an interview process before they were selected to live in the building. During her interview, Flores said that she gave a presentation on her food. Being that the interview was right around lunch time, she made a few of her most popular dishes too.

"I just whipped them together real quick," she said.

She made roasted brussel sprouts with bacon on top and her own style of guacamole with feta cheese on top and cut up radishes and cucumbers.

Her style of food is a mixture of her two rich nationalities, she said. She comes from a Mexican American and African American background and is proud to celebrate it through the food she makes. The result is a lot of soul food and Mexican food with a little integration of other cultures too.

"I think at the end of the day food brings, regardless of who you are and what you believe...food brings people together," Flores said.

A spokesman for Artspace said they are excited to see people moving into the building.

"We're really happy people are moving in and we're really happy with the progress of construction and everything really," said Erika Dani, asset manager for Artspace.

There is still some construction that needs to take place before tenants on the first floor can move in but they hope to have everyone moved in by the end of the month.

There are also still a few two-bedroom apartments available. For anyone interested in the apartments, they can visit www.artspace.com/our-places/artspace-hastings-river-lofts for more information and to download an application.