Some low- and moderate-income artists in Seattle have a new place to call home.
Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, which opened its doors last month and leased immediately, is providing 57 studio, one-, and three-bedroom live/work units for artists and their families who earn between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.
The development, which is serving dancers, painters, musicians, actors, sculptors, and writers, is the third in almost 15 years in Seattle for Artspace, a Minneapolis-based developer that specializes in creating and preserving affordable space for artists.
“I think there is a very strong arts community in Seattle,” says Greg Handberg, senior vice president of properties for Artspace. “I think also that there is a recognition and appreciation of that community by the city and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.”
Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts is the developer’s first official transit-oriented project. The mixed-use building is on land acquired from Sound Transit, the regional transit system, and is next to the Mt. Baker Station on the Central Link light-rail line. The developer opted to not include on-site parking since it’s located on a bustling thoroughfare, but it added ample bike storage and two Zipcar parking spots to encourage walking, biking, and public transportation.
Residents can plant their own gardens or enjoy picnics on a green rooftop deck. A music room on-site allows residents to practice their music or their work without disturbing their neighbors. And a large community room that opens onto the transit plaza can serve as gallery or performance space.
The development also includes fully leased commercial space, including two art galleries, a dual-language preschool, a coffee café, a dance center, and offices for a nonprofit dedicated to outdoor programs for youths.
“It’s our finest example of new construction projects completed today,” says Handberg. “The quality of housing that this provides in that location is very outstanding.”
The $16 million residential component of the development was financed with low-income housing tax credit equity from JPMorgan Chase, a first mortgage from the Washington Community Reinvestment Association, subordinate loans through the city of Seattle’s Housing Levy funds, Affordable Housing Program funds through the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and funds from Sound Transit.
In addition to the opening of Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, the developer has more than 150 units for artists under development across the country. It is transforming an abandoned public school building in East Harlem, N.Y., into 89 units of live/work housing; renovating the historic Feed and Grain Building in Loveland, Colo., into an arts campus; and preserving a historic building in Hamilton, Ohio.