Space to Create Colorado

Space to Create Colorado helps communities convert buildings into affordable living and work spaces. Non-residential spaces are available for creative enterprises and organizations that serve critical community needs. The program is the nation’s first state-led initiative for affordable housing for creative sector workers in rural areas.

Space to Create Colorado will support one demonstration project and one project in each of the eight regions of Colorado’s rural communities. In 2015, Trinidad was selected as the community for the demonstration project.

Out of eight total regions, communities in:

  • three regions have been selected
  • three regions have closed applications
  • two regions will be accepting applications in the future

The community customizes each project to meet local needs. After a community is accepted to Space to Create Colorado, artists and creatives can apply for affordable housing in that community.

Overview

Type: Consulting/technical assistance and grant

For: Municipalities with Colorado Creative Districts

OEDIT division: Colorado Creative Industries

We prioritized regions based on readiness, public will, local resources, and housing demands. Communities can apply when their region is accepting applications. Regions are based on the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) regions. Communities in the following counties still have the opportunity to apply:

  • North Central counties: Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin, Larimer, Weld
  • Northeast counties: Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Yuma
  • Central counties: Arapahoe, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Jefferson, Teller
  • South Central counties: Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Fremont, Lake, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
  • Southeast counties: Baca, Bent, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo

From these regions, the following communities were selected for Space to Create projects:

  • Trinidad selected as a demonstration project
  • Southwest region: Ridgway selected
  • Northwest region: Paonia selected
  • Northern mountains region: Grand Lake selected

Requirements for consideration

To apply for this program, your community needs to have:

  • fewer than 50,000 residents and be geographically distant from urban areas
  • a creative sector workforce
  • historic buildings available for adaptive re-use
  • property available for development
  • a local governing body and local partners willing to provide money and other resources
  • demonstrated ability to execute community-based initiatives such as the Colorado Main Street Program or CCI’s Colorado Creative District program.
  • a steering committee to manage the project

Requirements after selection

If your community is selected for Space to Create Colorado, you need to:

  • enter into a memorandum of understanding with local partners and include it in your full application
  • enter into a memorandum of understanding with Space to Create Colorado
  • identify a $35,000 cash match for feasibility and art market studies
  • designate a local point of contact for planning documents, payments, community engagement, site selection
  • identify paid staff from community partners to lead public engagement meetings for the feasibility study and art market study, marketing the art market survey, and communication with community groups about the process
  • prove capacity and willingness to contribute to project pre-development and capital expenses

If your community wants to receive matching funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, your lead applicant needs to be a municipal government.

Preferred qualifications

To make your application competitive, you will need to:

  • describe the financial health of the municipal budget
  • identify up to $35,000 to fund part of feasibility, art market, and pre-development studies
  • develop capacity and willingness to contribute to project development and capital expenses (project predevelopment costs are typically 10% of total project cost)
  • organize a group of local leaders to provide logistical and tactical support for community engagement during the study phases
  • identify necessary municipal staff resources of time and capacity
  • develop a proof of concentration and types of creative sector and workforce
  • make sure that affordable live/workspace for creative enterprises and artists are part of the community’s planning documents and strategic plans
  • identify available properties and buildings
  • know the property owners in and around the creative district and Main Street program or development area
  • work with your Colorado Department of Local Affairs regional manager and update them of your community’s work and progress

After you submit your letter of interest, it could take up to a year to review and approve your application. After your application is approved, the phases are:

  • feasibility and market studies – seven months
  • predevelopment, including site control, architectural work, and securing financing – one to two years
  • construction – one to three years

 Because of limited funding due to COVID-19, we are not accepting applications for new regions in 2020.

Two regions typically enter the pipeline for competition each year. If your community is in a region with an upcoming rollout, you will need to complete the following application process.

  1. Submit a letter of interest through the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal. Log in to your account or create a new account.
  2. The Steering Committee reviews applications of interest and invites selected communities to submit a formal application.
  3. Invited communities submit formal applications before the deadline.
  4. The Steering Committee narrows communities to a list of finalists and schedules site visits.
  5. The Steering Committee will notify the winning community by the last week in May.
  6. After the community signs a memorandum of understanding with Space to Create Colorado, the community engagement and feasibility phase will start. The feasibility and market studies will take about seven months. When the studies are complete, Artspace will determine whether a project is feasible and can continue.

Letter of interest

Your community’s letter of interest needs to be at most two pages and include:

  • name of the applying municipality
  • your community’s readiness for the Space to Create Colorado Program
  • background in creative sector development
  • reason for community interest
  • statement of community financial readiness
  • steering committee or partnership makeup description
  • description of how the public and how creative industry representatives will participate in the process
  • example of a completed collaborative community project
  • description of any work your community has already done to identify the need for creative sector work and live spaces
  • other relevant information such as planning documents that include
  • creative sector and/or housing and commercial space as an economic development strategy or priority

Full Space to Create application

Type your answers in a word processing program, check your word counts, then cut and paste the text into the online application. Questions include:

  • summarize the goals of Space to Create for your community (1,000-word limit)
  • describe the organizational structures of the partners submitting this application for Space to Create (500-word limit)
  • describe how the partners plan to engage the community in the Space to Create process (500-word limit)
  • describe how the community has budgeted funding for the matching funds of $35,000 for Feasibility Study and Arts Market Survey (500-word limit)
  • describe the economic development resources available to support the Space to Create project. For example, urban renewal authority, business improvement district, enterprise zone, housing authority, council of governments (750-word limit)
  • describe the time and capacity of municipal staff to manage the Space to Create project. How will the municipal staff work with other community organizations to host public meetings, market the arts market survey, and communicate among local and state organizations? (750-word limit)
  • submit a current municipal budget

Attachments include:

  • memorandum of Understanding between the lead applicant and the local partner organizations
  • resolution by the municipal government that endorses the application and pledges $35,000 for the feasibility study and arts market survey
  • list of steering committee members, including names, titles, and affiliations
  • three letters of support from local partners, combined into one PDF
  • list of the available property with site control status, which you will include on the Creative Industries Asset map (Excel file)
  • Creative Industries Asset map for your community. The map should include: 
    • creative businesses, both for-profit and nonprofit
    • public gathering places such as plazas and parks
    • historical sites, buildings, and/or districts
    • public art
    • available property listed in the attachment
  • up to three additional items that make the case for your community to participate in the Space to Create program

You will need to contact the community’s project lead organization to find out how it is accepting applications for future tenants. The entire Space to Create process takes several years to complete. Communities typically start accepting applications closer to the date of the grand opening of the building.

The following communities have been selected as Space to Create communities:

  • Trinidad - Accepting applications
  • Ridgway - Applications not yet open
  • Grand Lake - Applications not yet open

If you are interested in learning more about Space to Create Colorado, please fill out the form below.

Community Partners

Program Manager

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