Artspace Brings Culture and Business Development to Michigan City

By: Kyle Hovanec Last Updated: March 14, 2015

Today marked the groundbreaking ceremony of the Artspace Artists’ Lofts, a historic day for Michigan City. This marks the beginning of construction on the Artspace Uptown Artist Lofts, a new live/work project for artists and their families.

The new space is being constructed in the newly restored Warren Building and acts as a sustainable art hub for Michigan City. The Warren Building was originally constructed in 1927 and is the tallest building in the Franklin Street Historic District.

Artspace, a nonprofit real estate developer specializing in creating, owning and operating spaces for artists and creative business, came at the request of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce and Lubeznik Center and instantly fell in love with the city.

“Artspace came to town at the invitation of the community and after we sent a consulting team to Michigan City, they came back raving about the level of support and community that exist here,” says Artspace Senior Vice President Greg Handberg. “ I feel like the Artspace presence here is going to put an incredible stamp on Michigan City’s development. I’ve seen it before in cities like Seattle and Chicago and I can already see signs of it developing here as well.”

This historic structure will now host 44 artist lofts with five commercial spaces also available on the first floor, with two larger ones overlooking Franklin Street and three others adjacent to the alley north of the building. It is centrally located in the Uptown Arts District, a six-block stretch of Franklin Street nearby the shore of Lake Michigan.

The ceremony involved local artists “breaking the ground” with their own uniquely designed shovels.

“Artspace is absolutely going to help Michigan City,” said Tom Brand, one of the participating artists. “Michigan City is a smaller city, so this program is going is definitely going to help bring a lot of exposure to the art community.”

“This is going to be the catalyst for a lot of redevelopment downtown. This is going to generate new artists, shoppers and restaurants,” said Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City Director Clarence Hulse.

Hulse felt optimistic about the different kinds of artists and businesses Artspace would bring to Michigan City.

“Artists of all types and retail of all kinds is expected to be here. It's incredible to think that just one building is going to act as a central catalyst for all kinds of art and all kinds of social and small business to set up in.”

Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer also expressed his excitement about the new project and looked at it as new turning point for Michigan City.

“We’ve been revitalizing our downtown for many years with many people and I’m blessed to be the mayor that was able to secure the tax credit from downstate through lobbying that finally made it happen,” said Meer.

Meer was also excited at the benefits that newly revitalized building would bring to art lovers and normal Michigan City residents alike.

“We had the Saint Patricks Day Parade last week and I just imagined that next year we’d go through here and have the building finished and full of tenants, artists, and nonprofit organizations alike. “This has been a $14 million investment and it shows were on the rise again. It’d be suspicion that by this time next year from 11th street to the lakefront that there will be not one building or one apartment that will be vacant and if it is, it's going to be renovated.”

For the artists and members of Artspace, this was an amazing opportunity to not only revitalize Michigan City, but bring a bit of art and culture to residents of Northwest Indiana as well.

“I’ve been working with such a great community of artists and leaders who have been strongly behind the project from the very beginning,” said Artspace Director of Property Development Sarah White. “We’re coming into this at a great time. This is a great building at the center of the art district and its so wonderful to know what this building means to people, and that I get to take a little piece of that with me.”