"Artists in Residence" airing on WTTW Sunday


Looking west on Bloomingdale, building now looks like this

"If artists want to stay in a community, they have to buy property," many said when the subject of artists being priced out of a neighborhood heated up.

In 1986 a group of artists formed the Near Northwest Arts Council (NNWAC). By 1992 they began formulating a plan for artists to have ownership in work/live condos in the Wicker Park/ Bucktown area. Kelly Luchtman began filming their efforts in 2003. Her film Artists in Residence will be aired at 6 p.m. on WTTW, May 6.


The three building complex originally looked like this


Part of an individual unit

"Those ten years of her filming were filled with high drama," relates Laura Weathered, NNWAC's Exec. Dir. "In 1992 we initiated a feasibility study to outline the preferred ownership model offering equity and sustainable affordability. We worked hard and often moved forward through the city departments and its processes at a snail's pace.


Indoor courtyard


External colors of building were to be in the color pallete of Monet

"In 1996, artists contributed cash equity and in partnership with NNWAC as sponsor, purchased a 46,000 square foot warehouse. It was actually three buildings.  Plans were drawn to create an open-core space and construction began. There was a euphoric atmosphere amongst everyone working together.


Kitchen which is part of the shared space

"Then construction problems began occurring and many people became angry and nasty. The genial group of home-owners was anything but.  The community imploded.


Space outside units allows for self expression

"There is a happy ending to this tale, however. Individuals came together and found solutions to the problems. They brought themselves out of the quagmire as a community and a $3.5 million project was completed. Now we are part of a hipster area with major transportation sources within walking distance.

"The building is financed as condo association governed by cooperative values, with a consensus decision making process and self management. The facility is family friendly; open space layouts allowed each unit to be extensively customized. Common area space includes a workshop and a community room with full kitchen. A second floor balcony surrounds a central open air garden,


Neighbors to the west on Bloomingdale each are around $1 million plus

and laundry room. The shared space is purposefully designed to be flexible and is most often used for rehearsal, video production, workshops, lectures, visual arts exhibits, film events and live performance. Residents manage a schedule for room reservations and share overhead costs in their monthly assessments.

"There are 23 artist owned live/work condos and another two businesses that reside in the complex, which is handicap accessible. "

In these financially strapped times, this successful project seems to be a model for creative solutions. Here is a short clip that will give you a sneak peak behind the curtain of Luchtman's film.





Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Insert images and media with <pp_img> or <pp_media>. See formatting options for syntax.

More information about formatting options