Artspace Lofts tenants ready, supporters get tour

Sixteen artists are ready to become tenants in the new Roderick Artspace Lofts in Downtown El Paso, with full occupancy expected in February.

"We support the arts community and it's such an amazing opportunity to give to our community of this magnitude. ... It's just real exciting to see another vibrant project added to Downtown and El Paso," said Andrea Gates-Ingle, executive director of Creative Kids.

Supporters and donors of the lofts on Wednesday got a tour of the new 51-apartment complex next to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, walking through the bright hallways and checking out two of the open and airy units.

Eric Pearson, president and chief executive officer, thanked a long list of people, including city leaders and donors, who contributed to the project. The project, which took seven years to develop and build, is estimated to have cost $12.7 million, with $10 million donated by the El Paso Community Foundation.

Chris Cummings Sr., Chris Cummings Jr. and Katherine Fulwiler Brennand, a longtime arts supporter in El Paso, and a founder of the El Paso Community Foundation donated the land.

Pearson said the building was named after Dorrance D. Roderick, who was a huge supporter of the arts.

"He published the El Paso Times for 45 years and started KROD-TV, which is now KDBC Channel 4, and KROD radio. He loved classical music and he supported the El Paso Symphony Orchestra ... he was a huge supporter of the El Paso Community Foundation," Pearson said, adding that his daughter, Frances Roderick Axelson, was a huge supporter of the loft project.

Kathrin Berg, vice president of the El Paso Community Foundation, said there were 125 applicants for the lofts and there is a waiting list. Because the complex is under the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, artists must make 60 percent less than the median household income. In El Paso, it's $22,020 for one person.

"The process was not so much on the quality of art, that is something that you judge on your own. But the idea and commitment on being an artist and a resident in an artist community Downtown, that was very important," she said.

Berg said the artists that will be living in the complex range from musicians and painters to sculptors.

The units also are designed with the artists in mind. Track lighting and large windows in each apartment provide great lighting to show off any artwork. Each unit provide open space for for working and living.

"Where they live, it's their studio, so if they wanted to they could have a mini gallery in their apartment," Berg said.

Stephanie Otero, special projects director for the El Paso Community Foundation, said the ground floor also houses the El Paso Community Foundation Gallery, a 3,000-square-foot space for exhibits, performances and other events.

There also will be commercial spaces for several businesses.

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150;; @EPTMaria on Twitter.