New artist live-work lofts opening in South Main District in March

A Downtown housing development seven years in the making is nearly ready for first move-ins by March. The South Main Artspace Lofts mixed-use project, developed by Minneapolis-based nonprofit developer Artspace, Inc., will include 58 live/work spaces for artists and 12,000 square feet of event and commercial space.

The $17 million project at 123 St. Paul Avenue is the developer’s first in Tennessee and 49th project overall.

“Our mission is to provide affordable space for artists, their families and arts organizations,” said project manager Alyssa Kelley. “Over the years of getting the project up and running and under construction, the neighborhood has transformed significantly, but affordable housing is still desperately needed in the area.”

Related: "Three ways to keep housing affordable for artists"

The South Main project, which represents a partnership between the developer, the City of Memphis and the Hyde Family Foundation, includes both historic rehab of the former United Warehouse and new construction in its former parking lot.

“Parts of the building were in really good shape,” said Kelley. “The interior layout is pretty open, so it didn’t require a lot of interior demo or reworking of the space because it was already so conducive to building apartments within it.”

Historic tax credits were used as part of the funding.

Rents will range from $500 to $850 per month for studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans measuring 600 square feet to 1,750 square feet, with a cap on rates for the first 15 years of the development. Applicants must be deemed eligible based on income, and dedicated artists of all kinds are welcome.

Related: "The Artspace odyssey: A new artist community comes to South Main"

“You can be the traditional artist – painter, sculptor, dancer – or you can be a spoken word artist, a tattoo artist, a culinary artist, you can build canoes, just about anything you can think of,” said Kelley.

Construction by Montgomery Martin Contractors has been underway since 2016. LRK created the designs, with commercial and community space on the ground floor of the new building and shared studio space. One retailer will be announced in the coming months, and a resident gallery will be featured in the basement of the warehouse.

“We’ve had exceptional local philanthropic support in Memphis,” said Kelley. “Memphis is by far and away one of the most generous communities that we’ve worked in.”

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.