Space to Create

The Ridgway Space to Create affordable housing project recently received a $2 million Colorado Community Revitalization Grant. (Courtesy image)

The Ridgway Space to Create affordable housing project, which is the first of its kind in Ouray County, received some more support recently in the form of a $2 million Colorado Community Revitalization Grant.

The Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, announced last week that Ridgway would receive the first revitalization grant.

The grant was established in Senate Bill 21-252, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Minority Leader Chris Holbert and signed into law by Governor Jared Polis, according to a Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade news release.

“We’re delighted to provide a community revitalization grant for the Ridgway Space to Create project. This is an outstanding example of leveraging multiple sources of funding to bring a project across the finish line — a project that experienced delays and cost increases due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Schultz, chair of the Council on Creative Industries. “Our sincere thanks to the Colorado legislature and Governor Polis for their support.”

The project dates back to 2016, when the state appointed Ridgway a Space to Create Community. The plans are to build 30 affordable housing units — mainly one- and two-bedrooms — on Clinton Street.

First-floor space will also “allow for a variety of community uses,” according to the project page on the Ridgway Creative District website at ridgwaycreativedistrict.com.

The recent grant will help with construction costs, which have fluctuated wildly during the pandemic, according to Andrew Michaelson, the director of property development for Artspace.

The nonprofit Artspace, which is overseeing construction of the Ridgway project, specializes in “creating, owning and operating affordable spaces for artists and creative businesses. These spaces include live/work apartments for artists and their families, working artist studios, arts centers, commercial space for arts-friendly businesses and other projects,” according to artspace.org.

“The grant funds will all go to project construction costs. We are exploring adding some elements back to the project scope that we had to cut out because of cost increases,” Michaelson explained.

While there have been unexpected delays, there is no reason why it won’t be finished within the year at this point, he added. The initial project timeline was five years.

“Construction is progressing on time and on budget. We expect to be complete in July 2022 and moving folks into apartments at that time,” Michaelson said. “Construction costs for materials and equipment have mostly stabilized, so we are confident we'll remain on track through completion.”

Local elected officials praised the project and said the most recent grant will go a long way in keeping local workers in town and there are economic benefits to that.

“Now more than ever, we must strengthen rural communities like Ridgway in our state,” said Senator Don Coram, who oversees District 6, which includes Ouray County. “The award of this creative project will stimulate the local economy and provide a bolstered sense of community, providing much-needed workforce housing in this part of Colorado.”

Ridgway Mayor John Clark added, “We are so grateful for the major effort that went into getting this funding through the legislature. This project will have a major impact on Ridgway being able to keep its creative folks. Plus, the economic benefits will be substantial.”

The Space to Create Initiative was created in 2015, as former governor John Hickenlooper announced the first state-driven initiative in the U.S. for affordable housing for artists.

In 2016, Ridgway was selected as the second project in becoming the southwest region recipient. The southwest region includes Ouray, San Miguel, Montrose, San Juan, Dolores, La Plata and Montezuma counties.

More projects are being considered and revitalization grants are still available. For more information about the grants, visit oedit.colorado.gov.

For the latest on the Ridgway Space to Create project, see the “Space to Create” tab at ridgwaycreativedistrict.com.