A Peek Behind the Walls …

Ready to learn a little more about our process of creating fully rehabilitated houses for artists? Want to see how we turn a $130,000 investment on our end into a $90,000 purchasing opportunity for the buyer? We thought so!

House by house, we’re building out ownership opportunities for creative people … Right in the heart of the Waterloo Arts & Entertainment District. And not just any ownership opportunities. We pride ourselves on offering artists not just a house but a real home.

Our work starts with distressed housing, houses that have stood in our neighborhood for 70, 80, even 100 years but require a lot of tender care to make them into modern homes for the 21st century. If not for our efforts, we might sadly see these historic spaces headed for the wrecking ball. Instead, we invest a lot of money and a lot of time to keep them intact and to improve them.

Here, we’ve saved a lovely 1910 Colonial that’s literally four buildings away from the main corridor of our arts district. In this particular house, we invested approximately $130,000 in the rehabilitation work. Through the generosity of government and private funders of our organization’s development work, we’re then able to do something that might seem a little crazy … We sell our rehabilitated houses for less than we invested in them! This house, for instance, is currently listed as $112,000. 20% of that is a “silent mortgage” … The buyer never makes a payment on this 20%; it doesn’t kick in until they sell or transfer the house to a new owner, and that owner then picks up the additional mortgage. In this house, that means a $130,000 investment on our part … And only a $90,000 investment on the artist buyer’s part! If that’s not enough, all our rehabbed houses also feature a one-year warranty and tax abatement; just one more way that we’re making artist space affordable.

Not only is this a great route to affordable homeownership for the artist; each of our houses is also a really great space to live in! We repair all structural problems with each house, so they function like brand-new. We knock down dividing walls that separate houses into a myriad of tiny rooms, creating a dynamic, open floor plan.

We often do the same with ceilings, creating dramatic lofted spaces wherever possible. In each and every room, we put a lot of thought into making spaces feel modern and still homey, applying the finest of contemporary finishes to our work.

Our houses end up feeling more open and more spacious, while still retaining the privacy afforded by multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. This 1,250 square-foot house enjoys a spacious living room and kitchen, as well as a large yard on its 4,000 square-foot lot.

At the same time, we’ve managed to convert this into a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home, the perfect launching pad for a creative family. Buyers love our attention to detail in places like bathrooms. Our goal is to make sure that our buyers have access to spaces that feel luxurious from the day of move-in … Without breaking the bank.

Our kitchens, however, are usually the show-stoppers. We open up kitchen spaces to allow for in-room dining and apply finishes that are both modern and cleaning-friendly. Throughout our houses, we apply development standards that keep houses as energy-efficient as possible. In the kitchen, this includes exterior-ventilated microwaves. Each and every step is another strategy for keeping your utility bills low for years to come!

We want our spaces to be the perfect marriage of century-old architecture with the move-in convenience of a new house. We also leave space for our buyers’ imagination, too. We provide every new homebuyer with a $1,500 stipend so that they can select out the kitchen appliances that best match their own tastes and preferences.

We also approach every new development project with an eye toward making sure that artists have space to do their work. Whether that’s an oversized garage for rehearsals or an attic studio that we’ve developed into a painting studio, we’ve got an eye out for the spaces in houses that could serve that creative energy well. Here, we’ve maintained the extensive open floor space of a full basement to allow for large-scale art activity.

This is what we do … House by house, block by block we are saving historic houses and providing artists with the opportunity to lay down roots in a thriving community.

Want to join us? Want to learn more about this and our other exciting artist space initiatives? Want to own this great house or another one like it?! Contact Camille Maxwell, the Real Estate Development Director that makes this magic happen, at 216.481.7660.