June 29, 2022

Cameron-Funded Artist Housing Comes to Life

Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts, a $60+ million 226-unit apartment community developed by 110 South Perry, LLC, includes 50 artist live-work units, 10 artist studios, and special amenity spaces intended for artists and creatives. The artist components are funded in part by The Cameron Foundation. Photo by The Cameron Foundation.

PETERSBURG, VA — It began more than eight years ago with a feasibility study – to explore creation of affordable artist live-work space – and it’s now coming to life. Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts is accepting applications for artists and creatives to lease special efficiency, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments that include additional square footage to accommodate the needs of artists. With input from an artist work group and CultureWorks, the design comes from a national model perfected by Artspace Projects, Inc., the nation’s leading nonprofit developer for the arts.

The artist components of Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts are expected to augment an already dynamic arts and culture community in the city. Pictured here, a musician performs at the annual Petersburg Festival of Grapes & Hops. Photo courtesy of Petersburg Area Regional Tourism.

“Seeing artists start to move into Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts culminates Cameron’s long-term effort to address the needs of local artists and to attract a larger artist community to the city,” said The Cameron Foundation’s President, J. Todd Graham. Research has demonstrated that projects like this help to transform communities and spur economic development. This long-term proactive initiative also is expected to provide a major benefit to the arts community across the region. “Artists are the ultimate urban pioneers who attract investment wherever they locate,” Graham added.

Following the Artspace Projects model, combining space for living with studio space for working within the same apartment helps artists save money and grow their artistic practices. Photo by The Cameron Foundation; staged by Tiara Donald.

The artist units are part of a major, $60+ million economic development project in downtown Petersburg on the historic former Brown & Williamson campus. The full adaptive reuse project, a 226-unit apartment community developed by 110 South Perry, LLC, is one of the largest investments in downtown Petersburg in recent years. The Foundation’s role has specifically centered on incorporating affordable artist live-work units and creative placemaker spaces into the plans. In addition to 50 artist live-work units, the facility also includes two four-story atriums, 10 artist studios, and other amenities. The spaces are designed to accommodate and foster a wide variety of creative pursuits.

Two four-story atriums provide natural light inside Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts. This daylighting is intended to help illuminate the artist units and commercial studio spaces inside the building. Photo by The Cameron Foundation.

Cameron’s support towards the artist components totaled approximately $440,000. Community Affordable Housing Equity Corporation, based in Raleigh, NC, contributed $20 million towards the full project. Additionally, Petersburg Housing Authority issued nearly $30 million in tax exempt bonds for it. “These numbers show the dramatic impact that Cameron was able to make in leveraging its philanthropic dollars for this initiative,” Graham pointed out.

Last month, the City of Petersburg and the Southern Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts as the Project of the Year. Developer 110 South Perry, LLC is led by Tom Rosman of Richmond and Tom Wilkinson of Williamsburg. “It has taken tremendous collaboration with the City of Petersburg, Artspace Consulting, The Cameron Foundation, and others to realize this unique large-scale campus that brings hundreds of new residents to Petersburg, adding important revenue to the local tax base and infusing new consumer spending to the local economy,” said Wilkinson. “The artist components are key to this endeavor,” he added.

Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts will offer a creative community where artists can live, work and connect. Artist studios for commercial lease are available on the first floor. Photo courtesy of CultureWorks; PopsHaven studio staged by Barry Roebuck.

“ArtistSpace Lofts represents an investment in Petersburg that will not only add to the City’s tax base, but also will foster the arts and cultural community needed to help grow tourism,” noted Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham.

A unique feature of the partnership is the ArtistSpace Selection Committee, comprised of 27 members who work in concert with S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. to place artists in the live-work units. After candidates complete Nusbaum’s screening process, those applying for an artist unit are referred to the ArtistSpace Selection Committee for an interview. “This committee is made up of local artists, creatives and community members,” explained committee chair Aimee Joyaux, who is herself an artist. “We screen candidates to determine their participation in, and commitment to, the arts,” she added. The applicants’ interest in contributing to a cooperative, creative environment also is discussed, as artists and creatives who are selected to reside in the live-work units will be able to program the amenity spaces for artists.

Artist Educator Aimee Joyaux serves as the chair of the ArtistSpace Selection Committee for Petersburg ArtistSpace Lofts. Photo courtesy of Petersburg Area Regional Tourism.

Graham, who has announced his plans to retire at the end of this year, reflected on the ArtistSpace project, saying, “Efforts such as these typically entail years of commitment by Cameron and other community partners before results are visible. It’s so rewarding to see the ArtistSpace Selection Committee volunteers work together to help form a successful artist community, and we owe them our gratitude.” Once the units have been filled, resident committees, including a program committee and artist selection committee, will be formed to carry on the ArtSpace model in the special artist apartments, studios and amenity spaces.

More information is found at www.artistspacelofts.com, or by contacting Bettina Nelson, Community Manager – S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. (phone 804 451 1292; email artistspacelofts@slnusbaum.net).

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