Jun 27, 2023 - News

New artist village coming to the Fifth Ward

The 1938 homes will be revived. Photo: Courtesy of Fifth Ward CRC staff member Mylles Hallado

The Fifth Ward will soon have an affordable housing community for artists.

Driving the news: The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corp. is restoring and preserving the group of cottages adjacent to the DeLuxe Theatre, which serves as the neighborhood's creative hub, to create an affordable housing community for artists.

What's happening: The community currently has 15 houses that are nearly 100 years old. One will be removed to become a public amphitheater, one will be an open space for artists to gather, and the other 13 will be transformed into homes and studio spaces.

  • Three of the homes will be part of an artist residency program, where artists will receive free housing in exchange for projects that engage with the community, according to Harrison Guy, director of arts and culture at the Fifth Ward CRC.

The intrigue: While there are other artist programs that exist — like Project Row Houses and the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts residency and Elder Street Artist Lofts housing — Guy says the DeLuxe village will be the first studio-housing artist community in the Houston area with an exhibition space.

  • Not only will the residency provide free housing, but the artists will also be able to live next to each other and collaborate.

What they're saying: "Our hope is that we're helping artists grow. And so this is a stop on their path as they continue developing and growing," Mayra Bontemps, the chief real estate officer at the Fifth Ward CRC, tells Axios.

  • Guy says they wanted to cultivate a space where art and artists in the Fifth Ward could thrive and mitigate the idea of the starving artist.

Details: The Fifth Ward CRC is expecting to restore the homes and the area around the village over the next year, according to Bontemps.

  • The total project cost is approximately $2.6 million, one-third of which has been raised thus far and is privately funded.
  • The village — the homes and the surrounding space — will have "an artistic flair" to reflect the artist community.
  • The DeLuxe Village has completed one home, which already houses the program's first resident artist: Joseph Halcomb, a 28-year-old multidisciplinary artist from Oakland, California, who focuses on fashion design, music and acting.

Zoom in: The 13 homes will be approximately 670 square feet each. Ten will be rentable houses with standard one-year leases, while three will be artist program houses with one- to two-year leases, but the details are tentative.

  • The cost of rent for the 10 homes has not been finalized, but Kathy Flanagan Payton, the Fifth Ward CRC president, says they aim to serve families earning up to 80% of the area median income.

Between the lines: The project has been in the works since 2020, and the Fifth Ward CRC collaborated with Jesus Vassallo at the Rice Kinder Affordable Housing Lab and artists to create the layout of the houses.

The big picture: The 5th Ward Cultural Arts District received formal designation from the state in September 2020, and the village will be part of the cultural district's mission to honor art and creativity throughout the historically Black neighborhood.

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