Land Zo!: Work of Art

Christianna SilvaFebruary 2019
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A new live-work space for artists pops up in Mesa.

Working from home is an easy enough concept to grasp, but what about living at your office? That’s a different idea entirely, and one that Mesa Artspace Lofts is embracing. The new $15.8 million artist-focused community development is designed to provide housing and workspaces for artists and their families.

The project, which includes 50 units of housing, most of which are already leased, was an effort between the city, Mesa Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation and Artspace. The spaces, which debuted on January 23, are designed for artists without a traditional source of income. The low-cost housing doubles as offices, with spaces for clients to visit inside artists’ homes. Residents, who must be artists of any trade, choose from one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $465-$992 per month.
Artspace, a Minnesota-based non-profit that develops live-work spaces for artists, has more than a dozen similar projects in nine states across the country. This is its first project in Arizona.

Heidi Zimmer, senior vice president of property development at Mesa Artspace Lofts, says that the Mesa endeavor was a no-brainer.

“There’s this incredibly artistic and cultural community here and [Mesa was] looking for innovative solution[s] for growth of their downtown businesses and celebrating their artists,” Zimmer says, adding Artspace would help make Mesa a “destination for arts and culture.”

The lofts are located in the heart of downtown Mesa, one block from the light rail stop at Mesa Drive and Main Street, in walking distance of Mesa Arts Center.

“What makes [these apartments] live-work spaces are the hard surfaces, the high ceilings, the bright light and the more generic spaces,” says Naomi Chu, vice president of asset management for Artspace, adding that the apartments and community are designed to be blank canvases for artists to “literally create at their home.”

The units also have a courtyard, playground, gardens, outdoor stage, pet run and on-site offices for A New Leaf, which offers benefit screenings, financial literacy classes and more to help people enter the workforce.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about low-income people being lazy, and that’s not at all true,” says Liz Shaw, a personal development coach with A New Leaf at Mesa Artspace Lofts. “I think people want to have a meaningful life and contribute to society, and my role is to help them be able to do that and support their family and be successful in their vision of their future here at Mesa Artspace.”

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