CHICAGO (WLS) -- The first new residential development built in the South Side historic district of Pullman in more than 60 years opened Thursday.
"It started in 2011 with a group of neighbors in the Pullman community getting together and saying what can we do to support our already exisiting concentration of artists," said Ann Alspaugh, Pullman Arts.
Ten years later, the neighborhood idea officially became reality with the grand opening of the Pullman Artspace Lofts. The 38-unit building was built on land that had been empty for more than a century. The new lofts stand in the middle of two rehabbed historic buildings that were once threatened to be demolished.
"I think that's what makes this project so dynamic is that it really integrates the past and the future," Pullman Arts President Frankye Payne said.
Like the Pullman community, loft residents are a diverse group. The idea of the project is allowing artists to live and work in affordable space, so they don't have to find rent for both. The building also includes an artists' community room and a gallery. All of the units are for residents with 60% of average median income or below.
"I love the location, I love the atmosphere," said Robert Anderson, a contemporary artist that uses natural found objects.
The Artspace Lofts is the latest in a long list of new projects in the Pullman neighborhood that has been made possible through public and private partnerships.
Residents are convinced this new project will spur even more development in an area that just a few short years ago was considered by some hopeless.
"It certainly never hurts to have a bunch of artists, then comes the coffee shops, the music, the culture," said Steve Soltis, an ArtSpace resident and painter that specializes in portraits.