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Revised 38-Unit Pullman Artspace Lofts Revealed to Neighbors

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Monday night's icy roads failed to dissuade a near-capacity crowd of Pullmanites from attending the latest community meeting for Pullman Artspace Lofts, an affordable-rate mixed live/work space development aimed specifically towards artist tenants. The project, which has been in the works for years, began with neighborhood non-profit group Pullman Arts completing the initial feasibility study in 2012 before partnering with Artspace -- a Minneapolis-based non-profit with a portfolio of dozens of successful affordable artist live/work projects across the country -- and Chicago Neighborhood Initiative. Together, these groups brought on Chicago-based VOA Associates to handle the project's architecture. While much of the previously presented design for the Pullman Artspace Lofts remains unchanged, a slightly tweaked version from what was shown at an October meeting was presented to the community on Monday.

The plan calls for a complete restoration of two neglected and unoccupied 1880s blockhouses at either end of the site. A third, new building will be built between the historic structures, atop an empty lot that formerly held worker apartments. While some community members at previous meetings expressed concerns about the project clashing with the architecture of the area, the development team ensured that the new structure will match the mansard roofs, dormers, and masonry cadence and striping of its immediate 19th-century neighbors. Because the project is seeking federal historic preservation tax incentives, every effort must be made to ensure the rehabilitation is done accurately and all new construction is properly contextualized. The site also falls within the Pullman Historic District and must strictly adhere to local landmark guidelines as well.

While previous designs announced between 35 and 45 units of combination art/residential space to be spread across the three structures, the updated plan has settled upon 38 for its final unit count, a move designed to ease some community concerns regarding the project's density. Three-bedroom units have been removed from the plan in favor of more one- and two-bedroom and studio units. The tweaked design is also set further back from the street, with the new building now sitting even with the historic blockhouses. Plans for connecting bridges between the buildings have been scrapped from the new design after proving overly troublesome. According to the project's leadership, unit mix and floor-by-floor programming -- including first-floor studios, galleries, and classrooms to be shared with the greater community -- will continue to evolve over time.

Due to its proximity to public rail lines the site falls under the city's Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ordinance. By providing 17 resident parking spaces along the rear alleyway, the developers actually exceed parking requirements under the TOD ordinance. According to a newly-presented traffic study, the site's 400 feet of frontage along Langley can also accommodate between 19 and 20 cars on the street. The plan also includes 25 bicycle spaces.

The majority of those in attendance seemed pleased with the proposal, with only a handful of residents expressing their displeasure regarding the project's perceived high unit count and other accessory issues such as inadequate parking or increased automobile congestion. The Pullman Artspace Lofts team will next begin the process of submitting their Planned Development (PD) to the city while also applying for low income housing tax credits as well as historic preservation credits. If approvals and financing go to plan, construction is slated to begin in May of 2017 and is expected to take one year. Leasing of the development's 38 affordable live/work art spaces is targeted for March of 2018.

·Pullman Neighbors to Get New Look at Proposed Artspace Lofts [Curbed Chicago]
·Pullman Residents Split Over Affordable Artist Lofts Proposal [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Pullman Coverage [Curbed Chicago]