Christian art center, downtown?
10 February 2009 10 Comments
Generally, when my mind wanders with daydreams of a missions focused art center (retreat, colony, center, I don’t know what to call it exactly), I imagine twenty acres in the countryside. Hence my last post on the matter inquiring about the use of farmsteads as anchors for the place.
This week I’ve pondered putting the center in the middle of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. This is a result of the recent revival in downtown Siloam and conversations about the city center’s available real estate — hashed out mainly with the owner of The Baby Habit.
So far as I can tell (without actually having talked to a realtor) the buildings on each of the corners of Wright and Ashley are for sale. Three of the buildings formerly formed a lumberyard, one represented a tile shop and coffeehouse and gracing the last corner in question are the Creekview Flats.
I’m having fun imagining the kind of positive impact such an institution might render on modestly populated Siloam Springs, especially the impact on downtown. The spaces seem more or less ideal for such a proposal: The lumberyard for studios and galleries; the buildings across the street, including the tile shop and coffeehouse, for classrooms and the Creekview Flats (which are still on the market, though being rented out) for housing. The lumberyard and flats were both just remodeled, but the flats would probably need to be split into ten 1,200 square foot apartments. Presently they are five 2,400 square foot condos, which — in my opinion — is why they remain unsold. There just isn’t the demographic here willing and able to spend $250,000 on living space downtown, from what I can tell.
Imagining cost is a bit difficult. Buying all of the flats gets you going at $1.5 million (which they are not worth, especially in this market), before any renovations to add kitchens upstairs. Apparently the tile shop/coffeehouse building is on the market for only $80,000; as I recall it was round about 3,500 square feet. I haven’t the slightest idea what (or, honestly, if) the old M&D lumberyard is for sale, but I assume so. It constitutes, basically, an entire city block by itself. Take into account other remodeling, purchase of equipment (kilns, wood shop, forge, easels, chairs, tables, office equipment etc. etc.), an initial marketing and design campaign, a savings account for maintenance and some sort of endowment for scholarships and I suppose we’re looking at $2.5 to $3 million.
Any donors out there with that kind of capital interested in this kind of project?