The credits clear the way for a development that will include subsidized housing for artists in the middle of the Arts District.

Artists Close to Foothold in the Arts District With Tax Credits Approval

I’ll be honest. I was skeptical about Flora Lofts‘ chances for winning approval with their application for tax credits to help build subsidized housing in the Arts District for working artists. I think the idea for the project is just swell; if the Arts District is going to realize its original vision of being an actual neighborhood, the Flora Lofts project is a key component. I also think that local political leaders generally grasp the value the Flora Lofts proposal. But the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has more than just Dallas’ cultural vibrancy on its plate of concerns, and so I wondered how Flora Lofts — artists in a fancy pants Dallas development — would play against competing projects for low income housing in more indigent areas throughout the state.

Well, as it turns out, Flora Lofts sold themselves well. On Thursday, Flora Lofts announced that they had been approved for the tax credits. That’s a big step towards realizing the project, but now, as KERA reports, there’s more to be done:

Those things include seeking additional funding from the City of Dallas, creating architectural drawings and assembling the peer panel that will screen potential applicants. Construction could begin as early as February.

Here’s the release:

DALLASTexas (July 25, 2013) – The Flora Lofts’ development to provide artist housing in the heart of the Dallas Arts District has received tax credit approval from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). The affordable artists residences and multi-use development will now proceed, with expected occupancy in mid-2015.

“We are delighted with the TDHCA’s action and look forward to making Flora Lofts an exemplary development which will attract artists and their families from a wide variety of artistic disciplines,” said Robert Meckfessel, president of La Reunion TX, the arts-oriented non-profit organization that will own and operate the Flora Loft residences.

Flora Lofts will be he first housing for artists in the Dallas Arts District, following a model that has proven successful and sustainable in other urban environments.

Live/work spaces for artists and their families have been integral to the plan for the Arts District since inception. Obtaining approval for this key part of the financing allows Flora Lofts to move forward in fulfilling that vision.  The development will be located on Flora Street between Pearl and Olive.

With a broad base of support from its neighbors and the cultural institutions in the Arts District, Flora Lofts will provide living spaces for working artists and a way for them to collaborate in common spaces in the building. Flora Lofts is also expected to stimulate job creation and build new relationships in the neighborhood and the nearby downtown area.

The classic modern design of Flora Lofts will be a handsome addition to the Arts District, becoming a low-key, complimentary neighbor to other nearby edifices, including the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Crow Collection. Flora Lofts will offer a different price-point than nearby existing residences – one more affordable to artists and their families.

The six-story structure at 2121 Flora Street will feature upper floors that are terraced back from Flora Street, with landscaped balconies. The artists residences on the upper floors will be blended with street-level retail accessible to pedestrian traffic and also provide additional public parking.

Additionally, Flora Lofts will enable a variety of businesses to locate in the Arts District, such as a technology gallery, cafe, gastro pub and floral shop, plus others. These creative neighborhood benefits and other street level amenities will encourage patrons to come and stay in the Arts District before and after performances and visiting exhibitions.

Development leadership says the next steps – partial city funding, private financing, architectural drawings, and other elements – could be in place quickly enough to begin construction by February next year.