A new life for Feed and Grain?

LOVELAND – Artists here could soon have a new place to call home when Loveland’s newest revitalization project – a nearly $10 million project downtown – is complete.

The historic Feed and Grain building, which is more than 120 years old, and an adjoining parcel will become a live-work space for Loveland’s artistic community, thanks to efforts by a variety of organizations.

Artspace, a Minnesota-based nonprofit real estate developer that has done similar projects nationwide, is working with local nonprofit Novo Restoration, the City of Loveland and others to renovate the Feed and Grain building and build a new apartment complex next to the existing structure.

As envisioned, the Feed and Grain will be where artists to do their work, including performance space and studios. The building will undergo a $1.2 million stabilization process to keep it standing strong, but the aesthetics of the building will be left intact, according to Andrew Commers of Artspace.

Then, when funding becomes available, hopefully by the first quarter of 2013, 30 units of residential space will be built on the lot next to the Feed and Grain. The units will be very affordable, Commers said, with studio apartments offered for as little as $350 per month.

Artspace units have extra space, typically 100 to 150 square feet, for artists to work, saving them the added expense of paying for a separate work space. The units also will have high ceilings and will be designed to provide the best light possible for its artist-residents, Commers said.

The residential portion of the project will cost approximately $8.1 million.

Funding will hopefully come from a variety of areas, particularly grants and tax credits. Artspace has already applied for a Low Income Housing tax credit from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority and expects to find out within a month if it qualifies.

Funds could also come from the State Historic Fund, the Division of Housing and other sources. The City of Loveland has provided $550,000 to help with initial costs and will also be waiving fees for the project.

Commers said $2.5 million has been secured for the residential portion of the project.

Local artists are receptive to the idea, according to the results of a market study conducted to gauge the interest of those who might take advantage of the Artspace project.

The market study surveyed 410 artists, 139 of whom said they were interested in relocating to a live-work space; over half of those already live in Loveland. Among the same group, 188 said they wanted studio space and 270 said they would use occasional rental space.

One local artist who would make use of the studio space offered by the Artspace project is Megan Tracy, whose art includes photography and mixed media.

Tracy now works out of her home in Loveland, which she owns, but said she would like to eventually use the project’s studio space.

Tracy has been a part of the process as the Artspace project moves forward, attending meetings and acting as a conduit between some of the community’s artists and those in charge of putting the project together.

“It’s exciting that soon we’ll have a space where artists can gather, and not just studios, but also performance space for theater and dance,” Tracy said.

The mission to save the Feed and Grain building is backed by Novo Restoration, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the sense of community in Loveland. The Feed and Grain was in danger of being torn down in 2006, when a Kansas developer had the option to purchase the property with plans to demolish the building.

The Loveland City Council and the Historic Preservation Commission blocked the demolition from happening, but now, the building is often targeted by vandals and is deteriorating.

At the same time, the building has already been used for one art show this year, a “light graffiti” exhibit that took place in February, and will play host to two more shows this summer, according to Felicia Harmon of KRH Group, a community revitalization consultant who has been working to put together the various pieces of the Artspace project.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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