Artists looking for affordable live-work spaces can consider many different options, from traditional studios to funky townhouses to airy lofts located in communities filled with creative types. Here are some of the newest affordable local homes and havens for artists.
» Hyattsville Arts District
Straddling Route 1 in downtown Hyattsville, Md., a new planned community of condos and townhouses has taken root — and in the process is cultivating the area’s growing arts community. The project’s first phase, the West Village, unveiled 132 townhouses and live-work art spaces, 120 of which are currently occupied (including all 10 art spaces). Across Route 1, the East Village’s town homes recently opened pre-sales, with an expected fall delivery. Sheet metal mingles with brick and arched windows for funky facades that front 1,400- to 2,200-square-foot townhouses with two-car garages; prices start at $359,900 and run up to the high $400s. The nearby Lustine Center, in a restored 1950s auto showroom, features a fitness center and art gallery. (Eya.com)
» Fendall Heights in Anacostia
This newly bright-and-shiny building sits near the site of the refurbished Frederick Douglass House, offering 29 units of affordable housing restricted to first-time buyers. Floor plans include one- and two-bedroom condos ranging from 450 to 950 square feet, with prices starting at $125,000. Building perks include a 3,000-square-foot community center with studio spaces, plus a green roof (and eco-friendly double-pane windows). (2025 Fendall St. SE)
» Mt. Rainier, Md.
Though housing in this outlying community tends to be detached, local arts communities here thrive. Once an area heavy on warehouses, Mt. Rainier is part of the Gateway Arts District artist zone, with perks such as no income tax for resident artists. Arts attractions include the Washington Glass School, Red Dirt Studio, Flux Studios, Martha Jackson-Jarvis Studio and more. Opened in 2005, the Mount Rainier Artist Lofts provide 44 rental live-work lofts at reduced rates and first-floor commercial space. The town has an alternative currency, called the Anacostia Hour, which gives artists and skilled crafters the chance to exchange goods for services. Local Graham Boyle calls the community an “artist’s utopia.”
» Greenbelt, Md.
Housing stock in this Metro-connected suburb skews more toward single-family homes than condos and townhouses, though the Greenbelt Homes cooperative is a notable exception. Sherill Anne Gross, 32, lives in a townhouse that’s part of the cooperative, where townhouses on the market are listed starting below $100,000. Though Gross used to create out of her home, she now shares a studio as an artist-in-residence at the nearby Greenbelt Community Center, where she creates cut-paper illustrations. Coursing through Greenbelt’s active arts community are arts clubs, and groups range from photography to pottery, a writer’s group to a glass guild.
Apartments include the new Loree Grand at Union Place, with 30 reduced-price live-work studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for income-qualified artists developed by the Cultural Development Corporation; and the under-construction Brookland Artspace Lofts, with 41 studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and a dance/music rehearsal studio with gallery. Minneapolis-based nonprofit Artspace Projects and the local Dance Place will start recruiting artist applicants this fall, with tenants expected to be ready to move in by next summer.
» A primer on live-work communities for artists.
Written by Express contributor Katie Knorovsky
Photo courtesy EYA