Housing Complex

Artist Space Rising in Brookland

You wish you lived here. (Lydia DePillis)

Tucked just off busy Monroe Street NE in Brookland, an artist's paradise is taking shape: The Artspace apartments at Danceplace, where a few dozen lucky creative types will be living and working by this time next year.

The 41-unit project, funded by a combination of federal stimulus money and city and non-profit grants, broke ground in February and now is mostly framed out. Walking through its three floors conveys a sense of how the space will feel: Tailored to the needs of people who move around large objects all the time, the doors are wider, the windows larger, the halls roomier. Surfaces will be plain concrete and vinyl, with no carpeting or other fripperies. In nonprofit Artspace's other projects around the country–there's one nearby in Mt. Rainier, Md.–the tenants end up completely transforming the interiors with whatever medium they work in.

The leasing process will begin in the spring, and units go on a first-come, first-serve basis to qualifying artists. But while the affordable rents and gorgeous rooms might be a draw, it's not for reclusive creatives: Living at Danceplace will require a certain degree of community-mindedness. Residents typically operate as a coop, and are encouraged to invite the public in for walk-throughs, where art is displayed in the halls and in units themselves.

The project isn't just about creating space for artsy folks, though. It's also about infusing Brookland with an artsy spirit, complemented by developer Jim Abdo's project across from Catholic University. Heidi Kurtze, director of property development for Artspace Projects, says they chose Brookland in part because it wasn't quite as trendy or expensive yet as U Street NW or H Street NE, reflecting how artistic communities usually develop: On the margins, not in the already-hot real estate markets. (Plus, with units priced at 60 percent of area median income, it will probably avoid the Loree Grand's problem of not being able to find enough artists to fit narrow income qualifications).

With permanently affordable places for artists to live, future arts-based marketing efforts could be a more substantive and cohesive thing than some other branding projects I could name.

"The creation of an arts district is very much our intent," said Kurtze, "When it's done, she says, "There will probably be a more concerted effort in trying to create an identity."

As the red line rumbles by to the Brookland-CUA station, it feels for all the world like you were in Williamsburg.

  • Rick Mangus

    Why is this shit being funded by OUR MONEY?

  • andrew

    If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that the public funding could pay off through increased development and tax revenues in that area. Although I think that DC wants Brookland to remain primarily a residential area (good!), the land around the Metro Station (and along the Metropolitan Branch RR) is extremely underused compared to other stations on the Red Line.

    This could be a great way to begin attracting new development to the area without ruining its character.

    The other problem with the Loree Grand's "affordable artist housing" was that it was far too expensive for somebody within the income restrictions to afford. The affordable units in the Loree and Senate Square both push upward of $2000 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. You'd be insane to pay even half that if you're making $40k/year.

  • ge0rgetown

    "The other problem with the Loree Grand's 'affordable artist housing' was that it was far too expensive for somebody within the income restrictions to afford."

    The problem isn't with Loree Grand, it's with what the District considers affordable. They incorporate data from Suburban Virginia and Suburban Maryland when making their income bracket determination.

  • ge0rgetown

    "As the red line rumbles by to the Brookland-CUA station, it feels for all the world like you were in Williamsburg."

    I hope you are not refering to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  • Rick Mangus

    You know with homeless families being housed at a hell hole like DC General and other locations in this city and we are building this for WHO? Get you're heads out of you're ass people!

  • Jason

    @Rick Mangush - so in your opinion homeless people should be our only priority?

  • Rick Mangus

    'Jason', no but this is a low, low, low priority in a budget with more than enough waste. In plain words this is a bullshit project with no rational meaning or return!

  • Jason

    @mangush - well, Artspace is a national organization and is building the housing. I'm sure DC is kicking in something but projects were DC pays some initial amount and a national organization pays the rest are often revitalization opportunities worth cashing in on.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Jason', this crap was paid for by stimulus money and other DC funds as well money that could of went to feeding a lot of children in this town!

  • rew

    fantastic news for DC and brookland! we often neglect our creative resources in this town. fenty almost destroyed the DCCAH. and artists have been fleeing this city in droves.

    let's hope that this help rejuvenate the creative energy in NE.

    piss off rick. your ignorance of creative investment and its return on the economy and quality of life makes you seem trollish and juvenile.

  • Jason

    @Mangush - Stimulus money was always for building things. There are other revenue streams for social services and this didn't take any food out of anyone's mouth.

  • Bob See

    I don't have a problem. Brookland hasn't had squat happen to it, unlike other areas in DC where metro came in. It's surprising as 12th st ne is a nice enough commercial area, surrounded by old houses. An there's the metro parking lot, a bridge, and CU on the other side. And it all just sits there like it's in a time bubble. Brookland should keep its character and not get overrun, but it could use a bit of spark, and I think a project like this is the right one.

  • mistymusings

    As I eagerly await the application process and volunteer numerous hours to address the hunger/obesity epidemic in our nations capitol, you guys really got me fucked up! All this bitching about what! Really, how much do you sit on the sidelines and wait to hammer a plan to revitalize and provide hope/actions that grow our community. Change isnt going to happen all of a sudden.
    I don't cuss, but damn I'm facing some pretty incredible odds and I can thank you for sharing the worst possible predictions for a community Ive been a part of for 45 years. After traveling the world,I came back to take care of my aging parents and do my damn part. We all have our lives to live and we are creatively looking for solutions,be apart of it. Stop being passive-aggressive. You alone do not have the strong hold on the truth. Teach if your able, listen more often, than not

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  • http://www.dulynotedpainters.com matthew Malone

    I am a direct result of the artspace project. I invite everyone to check out my work and the neighborhood progress on June 1st.

    -----PRESS RELEASE----DATE May 14th, 2013------

    Duly Noted Painters: Matt Malone & Kurtis Ceppetelli


    “We are two painters painting as one.” Malone & Ceppetelli are excited to announce “Conversations” the first gallery showing of their collaborative work together. Curated from two years of work, these paintings enter conversations with both the viewer and each other. Sized from 3x3 to 6x9 feet, the paintings are created using charcoal and returned house paint on drop cloth canvas.

    The show runs from June 1st-22nd 2013.

    Reception & Open Studio

    June 1st. 2013
    7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

    Selman Gallery
    Brookland Art Lofts, 3305 8th St NE
    Washington DC 20017