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Space to Create, the grand opening

by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Space to Create in Trinidad, sitting along the 200 block of West Main Street, was the site of a grand opening Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

It has been five years since Andrew Michelson the project manager of Artspace Projects on the real estate side, and City of Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico stood in the dilapidated rubble of the Franche, Toller, and Aiello buildings, with rain pouring through a damaged and leaking roof, promising each other they were going to do the project.

“This is really an incredible project. It’s taken so many people… truly a Herculean effort to make this come together… what you can do when you bring a community together,” Michelson said during his remarks on Thursday.

The buildings contain some 20,000 square feet to be used as creative space. The project is first of its kind nationally to be located in a rural community. The Space to Create project in Ridgeway, CO, was the second location in the state. It opened on Sept. 30, the day following the Trinidad grand opening.
Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper was also present to give remarks. He was governor of Colorado in 2015 when the state legislature voted $45 million dollars to the inaugural Space to Create program, the nation’s first state driven initiative for affordable housing for artists and other creatives.
Rico spoke to the attendees, naming some of the dignitaries who were present at the opening. In total over 100 people were estimated to have attended the opening.

The mayor recognized the efforts of Margarette Hunt from Colorado Creative industries, Bud Kelly Lindquist, Will Law, Randy Holmes, ad others who’ve worked with Artspace on the project.
Rico also recognized Trinidad’s city council members, who were all present, Las Animas County commissioner Tony Hass, and the large group of local volunteers, led by Marilyn Leuszler.  Leuszler is the director of the commons for Space to Create. The commons are the area that was on display during the grand opening.

Artspace of Minneapolis was chosen to lead and design the project, at first estimated to cost around $7 million to $8 million. It soon ballooned to around $20 million when it was discovered that more residential units were needed to reduce the price per square foot so that the costs would be in the sphere of affordable housing rent levels.

The addition of the Elm Street Space to Create project added another 20 residential units to the 21 residential units already located in the Space to Create Main Street project bring the total of residential units to 41.

The funding partners involved in the project are the International Bank, which donated the first building in the complex of three buildings to start the project; the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), which issued about $10 million in tax credits towards the project; the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT); Colorado Creative Industries; and the Trinidad City Council; as governmental funding partners. The City of Trinidad allocated around $1.8 million in funding for the project.

El Pomar, the Gates Foundation, the Boettcher Foundation, History Colorado, were the private funders in the partnership working on Space to Create. There are many other partners that contributed who weren’t listed due to time constraints on presentations.

The opening was light in its presentation allowing a sense of celebration to infect the commons. A poem composed and read by the current Poet Laureate of Colorado Bobby LeFebre, furthered the sense of ceremony and celebration.

Cards of Thanks

Thank you San Isabel Thank you, San Isabel.  Terrific winds and no Walsenburg outage! ~Carolyn Newman Walsenburg,, CO Thanks from Traditions I want to thank

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