Artspace Project, Inc’s president Kelley Lindquist is described as eccentric, energetic, extraordinary, motivated and an optimistic visionary by his friends and colleagues. He is the president of the organization since 1987. The organization along with El Barrio’s “Operation Fightback” will start their first project in New York City by altering a public school, P.S. 109, in El Barrio that has been deserted in 1995 into an apartment complex for artists and their families.
Kelley Lindquist is very motivated by this project because East Harlem is a very vibrant community that is vital to the city, and because P.S. 109 is an extremely beautiful building that has the potential to be a masterpiece in itself.
Currently, residents of El Barrio face many of the same problems Artspace did before they bought along Mr. Lindquist due to the area being plagued with gentrification. Before Kelley joined they were working out of a small office notifying artists of places they could move into, sometimes semi legal ones. Artists would move in, fix it up, and then get kicked out by the new wave of individuals moving into the community.
Kelley’s love for arts and community building helped him transform Artspace Projects once he started his tenure there in 1987 into an organization that would transform buildings or start completely new projects for living spaces for artists where they are surrounded by creativity. This latest project of Artspace will host 90 units of affordable housing and a 15,000 square foot area for Latino arts and cultural organizations. The living spaces will be set aside for artists whose income is less than 60% of the area’s median income.
The leasing process of the residential units is expected to be completed in 2014. On Artspace’s website information about the project including the leasing process can be delivered to anyone that subscribes to the updates. The non-profit organization has ensured that 50% of the tenants are residents of El Barrio. They are ensuring that East Harlem artists are well-represented in the facility by applying NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development’s (HPD) lottery process.
They had the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, the 2nd of October from 4 – 8 pm at 215 East 99th Street. In attendance was Mayor Bloomberg, Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, National Endowment for the Arts Chair Rocco Landesman, Kelley Lindquist, Ford Foundation President Luis Ubinas, and El Barrio’s Operation Fightback Executive Director Gustavo Rosado. Performances included Salsa legend Johnny Colon and his orchestra.
It is a $52 million dollar venture. In October 2011 the project has received a tax credit allocation that will generate approximately $24 Million in equity funding to the project. With this essential funding in place, they hope to complete their financial closing by year-end and begin construction this winter. While there will be many tangible benefits to emerge from this project, one of the most immediate will be the creation of nearly 500 jobs during the two-year construction phase according to Mayor Bloomberg.
The Ford Foundation gave Artspace $4.75 million, some having been allocated to the El Barrio P.S. 109 project.