Jul 16, 2021 - Real Estate

Affordable living, workspace lofts for artists coming to Bentonville

rendering of SOMO lofts

A rendering by KD Architects shows what the SOMO Lofts will look like. Image courtesy of Artspace Projects, Inc.

Spaces intended to be affordable for artists to live and work in are coming to Bentonville.

What's happening: Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization Artspace announced it will build 50 live-work units, the SOMO Artspace Lofts south of The Momentary off Southeast 8th Street.

  • The lofts will also have gallery space open to the public where residents can show their work, Becky Carlson St. Clair of Artspace tells Axios.

Context: The project has been in the making for some time. In 2019, Artspace released a report detailing the need for residential and work spaces for artists in NWA.

  • The organization used a $400,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to study the need for artist space over the course of a year.

Why it matters: The goal is to provide artists, who often have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, with affordable housing that caters to their needs so they can spend more time on their craft, Wendy Holmes of Artspace tells Axios.

  • Artspace found plenty of interest in these kinds of spaces. Of 811 NWA artists surveyed, 82% were interested in at least one kind of space — living and working in an artist space, renting studio space or renting shared creative space.
  • Plus: Rising housing costs in NWA are not making it any easier to pursue art, Holmes says.

What they're saying: "If you put artists together in a building, collaboration will happen," NWA-based artist Kat Wilson tells Axios.

  • NWA artists generally cannot make a living selling their work, but more support like Artspace, public art displays and the creation of Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) in the past few years gives hope, she says.

Of note: The spaces are open to people in visual arts, theater, music, graphic design and more.

Details: The four-story, 55,746-square-foot development will have 50 units — a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedrooms ranging from 439 to 1,083 square feet.

  • The cost of building the lofts is an estimated $16 million, which will be paid for with philanthropy and affordable housing resources like federal HOME funds and National Housing Trust Funds, according to Artspace.

What's next: Artspace plans to start construction in March and complete the lofts in March 2023.


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