Artspace Lofts offers a home for artists in Elgin
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News July 29, 2012 8:18PM
Plenty of art was on display at the open house featuring the Elgin Artspace Lofts on Saturday, July 28, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2012 6:07AM
If you think you have to travel to Chicago in order to see good art, James Harvey said to think again.
The local artist was milling around the Elgin Artspace Lofts Saturday morning, along with members of the public who were invited to tour the up and coming housing development. The project, located in what used to be Elgin Community College’s Fountain Square Campus at 51 S. Spring St., is slated to open this fall.
“Elgin is growing,” Harvey said. “People are making investments in the area. There’s art here. There’s culture here. You don’t have to go to the Loop for art. What you’re seeing in downtown Chicago is what you’re seeing here.”
The $14.5 million Artspace Lofts project includes 55 affordable housing units, retail space, a community room that can be used for rehearsal space, a well-lighted atrium, and space for artists to display their work.
Artspace Projects Inc. of Minneapolis is a 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 other being the 24-unit Switching Station Artist Lofts in Chicago, which has been in operation since 2003. A third development in Waukegan is expected to open in November.
Artist Randy Stecks of Carpentersville, who stopped by the Artspace Lofts Saturday, calls the development “ideal.”
“It gives the artists a place to go and it’s good for the community,” he said. “I think it’s great.”
Those who took advantage of the tours Saturday, which coincided with Elgin’s Art & Soul weekend event, were able to see work by several local artists adorning the atrium. Those artists include Mario A. Ledesma, Fred Wimms, Jeff Kolak and Krista Pedersen.
The construction of the live-work development was made possible in part by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which allocated federal tax credits and state affordable housing tax credits.
Elgin businessman Mark Seigle led a drive that brought in $500,000 from the private sector toward the project. And the city swapped out land near ECC with the college for the downtown campus, which eventually will put the site back on the property tax rolls.
Officials said the Elgin Artspace Lofts will strengthen an emerging arts and culture cluster in downtown Elgin.
“It’s really about getting people out into the community and the community in here as well,” said Artspace project manager Sarah Swingley.