Grand Lake housing survey reveals artists’ top requests |

Grand Lake housing survey reveals artists’ top requests

Spearheaded by ArtSpace, plans to create an affordable housing project for creatives in Grand Lake are progressing after the completion of a survey designed to help guide the project.

ArtSpace is a nonprofit developer that aims to paint artists and creative types into affordable spaces in which they can live and work. ArtSpace now owns and operates 53 sites across the country full of live-work spaces, small studios, manufacturing labs and more.

“We work at the invitation of communities who want to create space for their creative sector,” said Wendy Holmes, ArtSpace’s senior vice president of consulting and strategic partnerships, during a presentation in Grand Lake earlier this month.

“We don’t necessarily do much speculating because there is so much need and demand out there and because there is so much economic value in having creative people in your community,” she added.

Grand Lake is one of the communities in Colorado selected for the state-funded Space to Create Initiative, an economic development initiative spearheaded by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and ArtSpace is working as the developer.

During the presentation, ArtSpace representatives detailed the developer’s portfolio and projects across the U.S. and in Colorado. Along with Grand Lake, ArtSpace projects are operational or in development in Loveland, Trinidad, Ridgeway and Colorado Springs, just to name a few.

Following ArtSpace’s typical process for pursuing projects, a feasibility study was completed for Grand Lake in March. After that, a market study was distributed this summer. ArtSpace returned to Grand Lake this month to roll out the survey results and release more details about the project.

There is no site yet for Grand Lake, but Holmes said some are under consideration. Addressing how many units the project might entail, Holmes said the data suggests Grand Lake’s project could support up to 15 units for creative types.

After listening to some stakeholders and learning more about workforce housing need, DiAnn Butler, Grand County Economic Development Director said developers might look to increase the housing number by combining a workforce housing element with creative live-work spaces.

“We know from talking to people there is a great deal of demand for affordable space period in this community,” Holmes said. “We might be looking at something more like 20-30 units, but that’s something of a conversation piece we need to test and think about over the next couple months.”

More than 350 creative people responded to the survey. The majority of them were interested in having space in the project. A significant portion of the respondents have children and many were younger than 40, though many of them have never lived in Grand Lake.

Respondents’ top ranked amenities were WiFi, flexible space with sustainable design, access to outdoor space, rehearsal space and large spaces with natural lighting. The top creative field was photography, followed by graphic design, music, crafts and fine crafts.

The next step for the future development is to start the predevelopment work, which means identifying a site.

“We’re excited to take this next step and we’ll be working on this for the next four to five months,” Holmes said of the predevelopment phase.

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