Arts & Entertainment  July 20, 2022

Divided Loveland council OKs money for ArtSpace project

LOVELAND – Nonprofit developer Artspace Properties on Tuesday won approval of a $230,000 city appropriation to keep the redevelopment of Loveland’s historic Feed and Grain building on track, but City Council members were stunned by what they heard about what the residential rents would be.

Acting as the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority, council members voted 5-4 to pass the appropriation on first reading after sharply criticizing projected rents of $1,800 to $2,000 a month for the project’s one- and two-bedroom units. The apartments had been billed as “affordable housing” to serve as “live-work spaces for the creative sector” for households making less than 140% of the area’s Area Median Income.

The asking prices for rents are “an insult to affordable housing,” said Councilor John Fogle. “To come to us and say this is affordable when it’s not is scary. If this is affordable, I’m a monkey’s uncle.”

He noted that new apartments within walking distance of the Feed and Grain project are renting for the same rate or “maybe a little cheaper.”

“Since the inception of this project years ago, the whole Artspace footprint was going to be affordable housing,” Fogle said. “This is far from affordable. This is market rate.”

Other council members echoed the dismay. Patrick McFall said, “I don’t like surprises,” and Steve Olson added, “I thought we were going to put artists in here. I don’t think we need to invest any more.” Mayor Pro Tem Don Overcash suggested Artspace “bring it back with fee waivers [instead of a cash outlay]. I don’t see where this is generating real economic activity.”

However, Councilor Jon Mallo noted that the Area Median Income figure on which the rents had been based is “part of the discussions government entities are having.” He said he would support the final appropriation “because it’s important that we keep our promises. It’s kind of a late day to pull the rug out beneath you.” And Councilor Richard Ball said Artspace “deserves our prompt approval,” noting that many of the costs of renovating the structure built in 1893 “are for architectural heritage situations that are expensive.

“They have done everything they can,” Ball said, adding that the AMI figure is a “state and federal designation. It’s not our council that does this.”

Mayor Jacki Marsh pointed out that Loveland has “more artists per capita than any city in the country, but just five or six art galleries.” The mixed-use project would provide more space “to display our artists’ work,” she said, telling Artspace representatives that, “as far as I’m concerned, you’re hitting it out of the park.”

The project will include 5,000 square feet of commercial space for the creative sector, as well as a lobby for public gatherings, art shows and broader community use. The funding from LURA is to be used to reimburse the developer for eligible costs as defined in the Owner Participation Agreement. The developer has a matching requirement for the Community Revitalization Grant it received, of which this LURA contribution qualifies as part of the developer contribution.

Ray Steele, board chair of Loveland’s Downtown Development Authority, said the DDA was supportive of the plan but has concerns about control of the revenue between the DDA and LURA.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

LOVELAND – Nonprofit developer Artspace Properties on Tuesday won approval of a $230,000 city appropriation to keep the redevelopment of Loveland’s historic Feed and Grain building on track, but City Council members were stunned by what they heard about what the residential rents would be.

Acting as the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority, council members voted 5-4 to pass the appropriation on first reading after sharply criticizing projected rents of $1,800 to $2,000 a month for the project’s one- and two-bedroom units. The apartments had been billed as “affordable housing” to serve as “live-work spaces for the creative sector” for households making…

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