Artspace was built in 1989, with the first members moving into the completed townhouse units in September 1990 and others started moving into the highrise November 1, 1990.
Artspace Housing Co-operative has a total 88 units: 66 in the highrise and 22 stacked townhouse units.
One basic premise in building Artspace was to ensure the 29 units (1/3 of the units) were wheelchair accessible. Two of the townhouse and 27 of the highrise were built for persons with physical disabilities. There are design differences in adapted units.
But how did it all come about?
In 1988 a group of committed individuals got together to look at a loft-type building with lots of natural light.
As many were actively involved in the arts community they were looking at a non-profit housing complex that would be financially viable for new artists.
As volunteers and individuals, we accessed the exceptional knowledge of Communitas, who knew about developing co-operatives and accessing building funds.
Over the course of development, to get funding through Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we needed to redesign. There were several different designs and we did need to tear-down a few old houses. We also tapped into a community of artists who had physical disabilities, were keen to live independently, have affordable housing and be a part of a community.
We purchased 2 homes on the property which the Co-op was intent on building. They were torn down and the new construction began. One homeowner would not sell to the Co-op so we had to work around that house (subsequently torn down in 2009).Those two members had houses torn down, had first choice in housing units. One senior chose a townhouse unit that had the same address as her house.
So we ended up with a highrise and townhouse complex, unique in the co-operative community. One of our sister co-ops, Abby Road was built a year or two prior to us so we learned from their experiences. Creekside co-op is another 'sister' co-op built after Artspace. Both Abby Road and Creekside focused on ensuring there were components for persons with disabilities, as being managed in the co-operative spirit keeping with the theme of affordable housing.