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Artist Housing in Downtown Minot

In Practice
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Artist Housing in Downtown Minot

Photograph from across the street of Minot Artspace Lofts building, showing the four-story brick building on a corner lot. A vertical sign with the words “Minot ARTSPACE Lofts” is projected from the front corner of the building. A wide sidewalk, street trees, and cars parked along the curb are visible in the foreground.
The Artspace Magic City lofts development helps to address a shortage of affordable housing in Minot, and is part of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts. Image courtesy of Artspace.
An oil boom has created a complex set of issues for Minot, North Dakota’s fourth-largest city and the county seat of Ward County. The city’s economic changes, including increased business activity and investment, have led to a rise in population from 36,000 in the 2000 census to more than 40,000 in 2010; the city estimates that 50,000 people live in Minot in 2014.1 The boom has also created a housing shortage, increased homelessness, and caused the prices of goods and services to rise. The 2011 flood of the Souris River compounded these challenges by destroying or damaging thousands of homes in the region.2 To meet these housing needs, as well as the specific need for artist housing in a small city that boasts more than 60 art and culture groups, community leaders contacted Artspace.3 Dedicated to providing artists with affordable places to live and work, the organization opened the Minot Artspace Lofts in summer 2013.4

Downtown Mixed-Use Development

Minot Artspace Lofts’ 34 apartments consist of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units ranging from 530 to 1,371 square feet.5 The units are leased to households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income; all but two of the apartments are occupied by artists.6 The building was developed in compliance with Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, which offer guidelines for the development of housing that is both sustainable and affordable. Some of the building’s features that meet these standards are appliances and fixtures that conserve water, ENERGY STAR® rated appliances and windows, efficient lighting, a reflective roof, and programmable thermostats in addition to flooring, paints, adhesives, sealants, and caulks that are low in volatile organic compounds.7

A Place for the Arts

Artspace Lofts provides needed affordable housing with an emphasis on art.8 As the smallest community in the United States with a full symphony orchestra, a ballet company, and an opera company, Minot has a vibrant arts community that is important to the future of its downtown. With funding from the city, the Minot Area Council of the Arts promotes the arts in regional tourism and economic development efforts. Artspace Lofts’ residents have the opportunity to display their artwork onsite in common areas including the lobby gallery, the hallway, and a community room, which will be open to the public during special events. The building’s first floor contains more than 3,300 square feet of arts-related commercial space, including retail and exhibition space occupied by the Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association featuring artwork by Native Americans throughout the country.9


Photograph of the interior of the Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association retail space. Native American artisanal items are on display on two sets of shelves in the foreground; the store manager stands between the shelves. Paintings are visible in the background.
The Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association, located on the first floor of Artspace Magic City Lofts, exhibits and sells Native American art from all over the United States. Image courtesy of Artspace.
The project’s development cost of $9.4 million was paid with federal, state, local, private, and philanthropic funds. The project received $5.8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits. In addition, the North Dakota Department of Commerce provided $300,000 in funds from the Community Development Block Grant program, and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency provided $200,000 from its Housing Incentive Fund, a state tax credit designed to create affordable housing for service workers, employees of local businesses, and fixed-income households. Several philanthropies contributed a total of $1.9 million; funders included the Minot Area Community Foundation and the Otto Bremer Foundation, an organization that has dedicated funds to Minot’s revitalization efforts since the flood. Additional philanthropic giving came from ArtPlace America and the Ford Foundation, which has a focus on creating spaces for the arts. Other funding sources included equity from Artspace and private mortgage financing.10

Additional Downtown Revitalization

Since Artspace Lofts opened, development has increased in downtown Minot. “[T]he building has been an anchor and catalyst for current downtown development,” according to Joy Drake, compliance coordinator for the project.In less than a year, a vacant property across the street from the lofts has become the site of two new boutique stores. Other specialty stores and restaurants are opening and expanding throughout downtown Minot.11 According to Cindy Hemphill, Minot’s finance director and interim city manager, the city has begun construction of two parking structures that will include ground-level retail and apartments on the upper floors. Minot is also using disaster relief funds to support downtown development, including a supplemental disaster grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to replace infrastructure in the city’s downtown in accordance with the city’s long-term recovery plan.12


The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.