Minneapolis developer announces $16M workforce housing project in Bentonville

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 6,225 views 

Minnesota-based Artspace Projects, a nonprofit real estate developer and property manager, announced a $16 million workforce housing development Wednesday (July 14) for an approximately one-acre site near the Momentary tourist attraction in Bentonville.

The 50-unit mixed-use development is called SOMO Artspace Lofts and will include housing for artists and other creatives.

SOMO stands for “South of the Momentary,” as the project is directly south of the contemporary art space which opened in February 2020 as a satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Artspace will be entering a long-term ground lease with Crystal Bridges, which owns the land, and will own the development outright when it’s completed. Construction should begin in March 2022.

“The SOMO Artspace Lofts will build on community efforts to support Northwest Arkansas’ creative workforce by providing access to affordable spaces to live and create art,” Greg Handberg, senior vice president of properties at Artspace, said in a news release.

The SOMO Artspace Lofts is a four-story, 55,746-square-foot development. According to a news release, all 50 live/work loft units will be affordable for residents earning between 30-60% of the area median income.

“We are excited to welcome Artspace to Bentonville and look forward to the future collaborations and opportunities it may bring to the Momentary’s campus,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary. “Having creatives living nearby will provide an important and energizing pulse to the livability of downtown, and we hope the residents of SOMO Artspace Lofts will be frequent guests of the Momentary, seeing us as a gathering place to connect with our community, work, find inspiration, and relax.”

According to the release, the building will have a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 439 to 1,083 square feet. The design features a 950-square-foot residential gallery space, onsite laundry and a shared balcony on each floor. Residential units will include open floorplans with large windows and energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures.

Artspace officials said anticipated funding sources for the project include philanthropy, a first mortgage, equity raised through the sale of low-income housing tax credits, and affordable housing finance resources, including federal HOME funds and National Housing Trust Funds.

In 2018, Artspace surveyed artists in Bentonville as part of a regional study funded by the Walton Family Foundation to assess the need for affordable commercial space and attainable workforce housing for creatives.  For a PDF of the 37-page study, click here.