Seeking Revitalization, Maywood Group Looks to Artist Lofts

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 11/29/17

Featured image: An architectural rendering of a proposed Artscape redevelopment in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. | Artspace

If a group of community stakeholders in Maywood have their way, the village could be home to a redeveloped building that could include living and work space for artists, similar to developments that have been cropping up around the country over the last three decades.

The committee, facilitated by Maureen McKenna — a community development officer with Community Reinvestment Fund, USA — has been looking to tap a Minnesota-based nonprofit real estate development organization called Artspace to replicate in Maywood what the it started doing in Saint Paul in the late 1980s, when the organization embarked on transforming old warehouses and factories into live/work spaces for artists.

By 1990, Artspace had transformed a six-story warehouse built in 1908 by a railway company into the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Cooperative — “52 affordable live/work units (some of them as large as 2,000 square feet) for artists and their families on its upper four floors,” according to Artspace’s website.

“The lower two floors provide office, studio and commercial space for nonprofit arts organizations, commercial artists and other tenants, including a coffeehouse and an art gallery,” the website notes.

By 1993, Artspace had transformed two more old commercial buildings into live/work artists’ space. And by 1999, it had redeveloped an old school in Chicago’s West Garfield Park area into the Switching Station Artists’ Lofts — a $5.3 million, 24-unit, roughly 37,000-square-foot artistic live/work community.

Northern artists.jpg

A flyer advertising the live/work space inside of the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Cooperative in Lowertown St. Paul, which was developed by Artspace. | Northern Warehouse Artist COOP/Facebook 

Switching Station, according to the Artspace website, features “off-street parking, a fenced-in play area on the building’s sunny south side and a lower level suitable for meetings and other events.” It also features a central courtyard and units that feature high, loft-like ceilings and large, airy windows.

The West Garfield Park development is one of four Artspace developments in the state. In all, Artspace has over 35 projects in operation across the country and an additional dozen in development, according to its website.

A recent report commissioned by ArtSpace touted the numerous community benefits that come with the redeveloped artistic spaces, which include expanded public access to art, the revitalization of “deteriorated historic structures and/or underutilized spaces,” increased area property values and the fostering of “safety and livability of neighborhoods without evidence of gentrification-led displacement.”

According to the report, the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Seattle “grew from an appraised value of $2.8 million in 2003 to $16.9 million in 2010, and went from paying less than $500 in property taxes in 2003 to more than $28,000 in 2010. Over a 2 1/2 mile radius, the Tashiro Kaplan increased property values by an estimated average of $14,679 (one-time per house or condo).”

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A chart produced by Artspace showing the estimated percentage increase of property value per house or condo as a result of two Artspace developments. 

McKenna said that, currently, the Maywood committee is in the first phase of its effort to land an Artspace development. She said that the group includes various community leaders in the local artistic scene, including Maywood Fine Arts co-founder Lois Baumann, several MFA board members.

McKenna said that the Maywood Chamber of Commerce and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins are also supportive of the effort.

“Like Artspace, the home office of [Community Reinvestment Fund, USA] is also in Minnesota,” McKenna said. “We seek to bring wealth to under-served communities and to be able to help revitalize neighborhoods in different ways. One of our main missions is job creation, so toward that end, we’ve been working in the Proviso Township area for over a year trying to find opportunities to help revitalize the community.”

Artspace_West Garfield Park school

Artspace turned a former school building in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood into artist lofts. Read more about them here.  | Artspace 

McKenna said that landing an Artspace development could take four to five years and takes place in several stages. The steering committee is still in stage one, which includes attempting to secure around $25,000 in order to fund a study that would explore the feasibility of an Artspace coming into Maywood or a neighboring community.

Mckenna said that the committee has raised about half of that money, having secured a $12,500 commitment from Hinsdale Bank and Trust, and is now looking to raise the other half by sometime in January 2018.

Only after the feasibility of locating an Artspace in the area is established can the group move on to other stages, such as marketing the project, picking a site and raising money for the development efforts.

“We’re excited about the outcome and believe we’ll see a positive result,” McKenna said.

Fore info on Artspace, you can access the ‘frequently asked questions’ page on its website here.


The interior of one of the artist lofts inside of the West Garfield Park development. | Artspace 

From the preliminary feasibility study until the first Artspace lease becomes available typically takes anywhere from 5 to 7 years. 

  • Preliminary Feasibility Study: $25,000 | Includes a 3-day visit, an assessment of potential sites,  meetings with local leadership, focus groups and public meetings.
  • Arts Market Study: $30,000 | Includes a survey, data collection, analysis and reporting
  • Pre-development: $750,000 | This is approximately three years of work, which takes the project up to construction phase and includes raising of funds to build out, determining the project location, project design and financial management.
  • Construction
  • Asset management

Members of the Maywood steering committee 

  • Ken Watkins, CEO, Hache Group and CEDG
  • Lena Hatchett, Proviso Partners for Health
  • Lois Bauman, Amy Luke, Kathryn McKee, Kathryn Busse (Maywood Fine Arts)
  • Maureen McKenna, CRF
  • Dorothy Brown, Self Help Credit Union
  • Brandie Booker, Firebrands Art
  • Loretta Brown, Maywood Environmental Beautification Commission
  • Lorna Harvey LJH Properties
  • Sarah Lira, Housing Helpers

Read the full Artspace report below

4 thoughts on “Seeking Revitalization, Maywood Group Looks to Artist Lofts”

  1. Marvelous idea! But …. How is Maywood going to pay for this? We’re in the red now…but if I have to see my tax money go to something, I’d rather see it go to this than some of the other lame-brained ideas the Board of Trustees has approved – like the Interfaith apartment building on 5th…..

  2. This ideal don’t fit the culture of Maywood residence first of all. Maywood need to stop all these lawsuits which is costing the tax paying citizens.

    1. Moses – What is the “culture of Maywood”? I see the culture of Maywood two ways: First – gangs, prostitution, theft, drugs, violence, police who don’t enforce the law and look the other way if it’s to their advantage, falling down buildings, wasting of my money and yours, reverse racism, hypocrisy, and lack of respect for your fellow man (and woman).

      HOWEVER, second – I drive by Maywood Fine Arts buildings and I see all the young people involved in so many facets of the arts that my heart sings and hopes that more kids could/would take advantage of a resource such as this. Look at all the young folks who want a career in music… they, and others like them, who have a dream of a life in the arts deserve to have the opportunity to pursue their passion.

  3. If Maywood wants a place to start it is the 400 block of S. 5th Avenue. The Village Board agenda last week included an item to re-start the Bundle Sale/Tax Reactivation Program to attract developers to Village-owned property. The Village acquired the lots on either side of the Jefferson Building in 2002.
    If the Village has any St. Charles TIF funds left it should buy and demolish the Jefferson Building and put all the combined lots out for this kind of project.
    Trying to attract a developer to the two lots with that hazardous building between them sets it up to fail. So, why not do the sensible thing and get the Jefferson Building?

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