Construction is expected to start next March on SOMO Artspace Lofts.
credit KDA Architects Construction is expected to start next March on SOMO Artspace Lofts.

Artspace Project announced plans to develop a 50-unit mixed-use project with live/work space for artists in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

“The SOMO Artspace Lofts will build on community efforts to support Northwest Arkansas’ creative workforce by providing access to affordable spaces to live and create art,” said Greg Handberg, senior vice president of properties at Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit.

SOMO stands for “South of the Momentary,” as the project is directly south of the contemporary art space, the Momentary, which opened in February 2020 as a satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

“I believe that Bentonville will become one the most important art destinations in the world, and I'm thankful that Artspace will provide something in the heart of the city that artists can afford,” said Kat Wilson, studio manager and community curator of CACHE (Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange). “Living and working close to the Momentary and Crystal Bridges opens up access to artists through studio visits, amazing lectures by national and regional artists, and a chance to live/work with a community completely dedicated to art.”

The SOMO Artspace Lofts is a four-story, 55,746-square-foot development. All 50 live/work loft units will be affordable for residents earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income.

The building will have a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, ranging from 439 to 1,083 square feet. The design features a 950-square-foot residential gallery space, on-site laundry, and a shared balcony on each floor. SOMO Artspace Loft units will include open floor plans with large windows and energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures.

The total project budget, including hard construction costs and soft costs, is approximately $16 million. A grant from the Walton Family Foundation supported the building’s design. Other anticipated funding sources include philanthropy, a first mortgage, low-income housing tax credit equity, federal HOME funds, and National Housing Trust Funds.

In 2018, Artspace surveyed artists in Bentonville as part of a regional study funded by the Walton Family Foundation to assess the need for affordable commercial space and attainable workforce housing for creatives. The study determined that Bentonville is well-positioned to pursue a project or projects that have spaces for artists and creative businesses, said the nonprofit, adding that a mixed-use live/work project development could be considered a "demonstration" project to provide a high-quality example of multifamily living in the core of Bentonville.