By Kevin Collison
ArtsBlock, a new project near downtown on Independence Avenue, more than lives up to its name by offering places for artists to live and work, as well as an exhibition gallery and art class space for kids.
The 38-unit apartment building is part of what’s called The Paseo Gateway redevelopment area on the northeast edge of downtown that’s being developed with the help of a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The four-story apartment building at 2300 Independence Ave. is a joint effort by Kansas City Housing Authority, Brinshore Development, the City of Kansas City, United Way of Greater Kansas City and LISC.
“We call it urban acupuncture,” said Todd Lieberman, Brinshore executive vice president. “When we looked at this opportunity, it was a horizontal mixed mode, a great place with an interaction of amenities.”
That ‘horizontal mixed mode’ includes neighbors SVN Charter School, the Northeast Community Center, Independence Plaza Park and the soon-to-open Split Log Coffee shop.
ArtsBlock was built on the site of a former gas station and is a true mixed-income project. It’s a blend of studio, one- and two-bedroom units with monthly rents ranging from the $400s for a 400 square-foot studio to the $800s for an 800 square-foot two-bedroom.
One-third of the units replace public housing lost when the Chouteau Courts project was razed, residents spend no more than 30 percent of their income for rent; another one-third are affordable units, residents earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income, and the remaining are market-rate.
“If you want to live here, you have a place,” Lieberman said.
In addition, artists have first preference on all the apartments except those reserved to replace the low-income public housing.
To make it even more appealing for artists, there’s a workshop space on the main floor, and a special disposal drain on each floor for waste that can’t be poured in their apartment drain.
On the main floor, there’s also a community room and space for children taking art classes from the Mattie Rhodes Center. Mattie Rhodes also will have a gallery at ArtsBlock for its folk art collection.
There also are three micro-retail spaces on the first floor with separate entrances off Independence Avenue.
The Charlotte Street Foundation will manage the spaces for tenants with an arts bent. The first tenants will be the African American Artists Collective, the KC Public Theatre and the KC Society of Contemporary Photography.
The project includes a 36-space parking lot and bicycle parking. There’s also a rooftop deck for residents. ArtsBlock was designed by Dake Wells architecture.
A grand opening is scheduled for Dec. 3.
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