Bob Plagemann is already planning to be in line with his paperwork ready on June 25 when Artspace Projects Inc. starts accepting rental applications for its Elgin development.
The 50-year-old musician/composer/teacher already lives in Elgin but hopes to secure one of 55 coveted units. The affordable artist housing development has been in the works since 2007. Representatives of the Minnesota-based nonprofit held their first of several information sessions for prospective renters Wednesday night, handing out applications and answering preliminary questions.
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Heidi Kurtze, vice president of property development for Artspace, thought the session was very well-attended and hopes interest spreads further through word-of-mouth over the next couple of months. Artspace generally accepts about three times the number of applications as open units because of the eligibility requirements, most importantly with income -- though having a higher income in later years does not disqualify residents from renewing their leases.
In her presentation, Kurtze raved about how beautiful Artspace is in the renovated Elgin Community College building at 51 S. Spring St. and the new construction next door. But while Artspace is about creating physical space for artists, it's more than that.
"It's really the people who are living and working and just being a vibrant part of the community that bring these buildings alive," Kurtze said.
Artspace operates 30 projects in 13 states with several more under construction. One in Waukegan is set to open in November. Construction should be done on the Elgin space by the end of September, giving people a chance to move in Oct. 1.
Plagemann, who plays trombone and gives private lessons, said Artspace will improve the downtown.
"You're going to see a lot more interesting projects, more integration into the community," Plagemann said. "It'll heighten people's awareness of what is going on in the area."
Besides prospective renters, several people interested in leasing commercial space showed up to the information session Wednesday.
Mahja Sulemanjee works in a nursing home and lives in Schaumburg but grew up in Elgin and hopes to return for the next phase of her work life. Sulemanjee started yoga and dance a few years ago and wants to open a studio in Artspace. There is more than 5,000 square feet of commercial space available besides the 55 units in which artists can live and work.
"I think this is such a great thing to share with others, especially in a community like this," Sulemanjee said of yoga and dance.
The income restrictions mean a single person can't make more than $31,860 a year to qualify to live in Artspace with minimum income requirements set at at least twice the rental cost. The application process includes a background check, income qualification verification and an interview with an artist selection committee -- but the artist selection isn't about quality of the work but verifying that the individual is dedicated to some form of art in a personal or work capacity.
Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis starting June 25. Details are available at Artspaceelgin.org.
Artspace: Nonprofit offers affordable rent