The Loft Artists Association has a new home in Stamford’s South End. After months of searching, the group will put down roots at 575 Pacific Street.
“This place came to us when we really thought we were never going to be a part of the South End anymore,” says former LAA President Lisa Cuscuna. “The real estate values have skyrocketed down here and the average going rate is twenty dollars a square foot and we’re not paying anywhere near that. The owners of this property are being very generous to us.”
The search for a new space began after Building and Land Technology proposed a rent increase on the group’s current space at 845 Canal Street. The City’s zoning board got involved after discovering that a relocation could violate a zoning agreement, requiring BLT to provide 15,000 square feet of cultural space in the South End.
“The spirit in which the regulation was written was to keep an organization like ours here,” says Cuscuna.
After much negotiation, the Loft Artists proposed a solution. If BLT agreed to renovate the Pacific Street building, part of its zoning obligation would be satisfied.
“We couldn’t afford to fit it out, the landlord of this place could not afford to fit it out so we couldn’t really move here,” says Cuscuna. “They finally said yes in August and then we had to go about proceeding to sign the lease and get the zoning board to approve that they might get credit for the 7,000 square feet that this is as cultural institutional space.”
Cuscuna says the zoning board approved the arrangement after BLT added some of its own terms.
“Part of which was that we would be a cultural institution down here and that we would provide workshops for kids all summer long and other things that we would do for the community,” says Cuscuna.
Cuscuna says the space should be move-in ready before the end of September.
“We’ll have our open studios weekend this year, November first, second, and third; it’s always the first weekend in November and that will be our grand opening,” says Ellen Gordon, the Loft Artists’ current president.
A representative from BLT says the corporation is still looking into options to satisfy the remaining 8,000 square feet of its obligation.