Organization Building Low-Income Housing For Artists Wants More Government Money

artspace

Since 2007 the City of Minot has already “donated” $112,500 to a project called Artspace which is an $8.4 million project in the downtown part of the city to provide housing for 34 impoverished artists. The project hopes to attract “visiting artists” for stays of three months on up to a year.

The city doled out the money already put into the project in 2007 and 2008. Now in 2012 the project still isn’t done, and the organizers want another $100,000 from the city.

Oh, and it seems demolition and construction costs are already spiraling beyond what organizers had anticipated.

Artspace already has begun excavation work at the site. Parts of an old hotel that once stood on the site must be removed, and because asbestos was found in the material, it had to be abated and hauled to an appropriate waste site. The city landfill doesn’t take asbestos.

Artspace representatives previously indicated the excavation raised costs by about $300,000. Hemphill said Artspace also is finding building costs to be higher than their estimates.

According to the website for the project, the organizers claim they’ve received $400,000 in contributions from the community (I’m assuming that includes the tax payer dollars from the city). Yet, they still can’t get this thing off the ground.

I know this project hits a trifecta for inspiring the enthusiasm of local government – it’s artistic, it’s low-income housing and it’s downtown – but it boggles the mind as to why the city would be “donating” money to a project like this. This is ludicrous.

Minot, between the impact of the oil boom and the loss of housing in last summer’s flooding, has got to be one of the hottest housing markets in the country. Demand for housing in Minot is huge, yet this project can’t seem to get off the ground.

That ought to be a warning for city leaders. Cut your losses and pull out of this boondoggle as soon as you can.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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