Music, food, and “art shovels,” will be much in evidence at 11:30 A.M. Tuesday, Oct. 18, as part of the formal groundbreaking of the Elgin Artspace Lofts at 51 S. Spring Street in downtown Elgin.
The groundbreaking celebration, which is open to the public, will kick off the construction phase of the $14.5 million project, which will create 55 units of affordable live/work housing for artists and their families in a 1908 Sears and Roebuck store plus a new three-story structure next door. The project will also create 5,000 square feet of “arts-friendly” commercial space on the first floor of the historic Sears building as well as community space, including a gallery, for use by the project’s residents.
“This is an exciting milestone for Elgin,” said Mayor David Kaptain, who will be one of several speakers at the event. “This important downtown building has served Elgin well, first as a Sears store and then as the home of Elgin Community College. Now it will have new life as a center for artists and arts activity. It will be a major part of our economic development strategy for the downtown area, supporting our efforts to firmly establish Elgin as a center for the arts in the Chicago suburbs.”
As the state’s housing finance authority under Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) allocated federal tax credits and state affordable housing tax credits to enable the construction of the live-work development. “Elgin Artspace Lofts demonstrates how federal tax credits available through the State of Illinois provide a critical financing tool to build quality affordable housing and create construction jobs,” said Mary Kenney, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Executive Director.
The Elgin Artspace Lofts is being developed by Artspace Projects, Inc., of Minneapolis, the nation’s leading nonprofit developer of arts facilities. Over the last two decades Artspace has completed 30 major projects around the country. The Elgin project will be Artspace’s second in Illinois; the 24-unit Switching Station Artist Lofts in Chicago has been in operation since 2003.
The City of Elgin and the Elgin arts community have been the driving forces behind the project, working with Artspace to plan and develop the facility, according to Project Manager Heidi Kurtze, who will oversee the construction phase.
In addition to Mayor Kaptain and other speakers, the groundbreaking celebration will feature music provided by the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, food catered by Cuisine America, and a dozen or more “art shovels” designed especially for the occasion by local artists, including Charles Cassell, Natalie Shadel, Erin Conroy, Jeanine Hill-Soldner, Richard Browning, Cindy Walden, Jen Prise, Fredderick Wimms, Ivan Mayo, Diane Keys, Darlene Hulin, and Sylvia Grady. There will be artwork on display by Natalie Shadel and Dave Metzger.
Based in Minneapolis with satellite offices in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles, Artspace is America’s leading developer of arts facilities with 30 projects in operation in 13 states. To date it has completed more than a thousand affordable live/work units for artists and their families.