Part of former Downtown Artery building to be repurposed for affordable co-housing

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A developer is working with owners of the former Downtown Artery building, 252 Linden St., to turn the building’s second floor into affordable co-housing.  

The plan, proposed by Helix Development Group of Fort Collins, would essentially add nine bedrooms to the existing three bedrooms on the second floor with shared bathrooms, a living room, kitchen and common area, said Josh Harrison, president of Helix Development.

Harrison is awaiting a building permit from the city of Fort Collins before starting construction at the end of April with construction done by August and the units leased for a Sept. 1 move in. According to the permit, renovations will cost about $521,000 including the cost of adding a wheelchair lift to provide accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Helix, a small company formed four years ago with the intention of creating affordable housing in Fort Collins, currently manages the building through its sister company Helix Property Management. 

Harrison said he’s been working with building owner Project 252 and Dohn Construction to figure out a creative use for the building. 

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The upstairs currently includes three bedrooms and office space. The first floor is fully leased by Dark Light Studios tattoo shop; Women & Inc, a business education and coaching company; and The Coast, a bar and venue. No changes are expected on the first floor, Harrison said. 

“Smaller projects make more sense for what we need here, especially in downtown where there’s a lack of housing and lack of housing in the price range we’re shooting for,” he said. 

Rents would likely fall into the $800 to $1,200 range, including all utilities, Harrison said. The Artery, which had provided performance and studio space for artists, might again draw artists looking for affordable living space. “We’re not entirely sure who will come,” he said. 

It might be the creative types or it might be employees of downtown businesses and people “who want to live downtown but don’t want to spend $1,600 or $1,700 on rent,” he said.  

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The Artery first opened in 2013 as a gallery and network of rentable artist studios upstairs. 

Two years later, it expanded into the building’s lower level with a renovated live music venue, band practice space, bar and cafe. 

The building was sold in May 2019 to Project 252 LLC for $3.6 million and the Artery continued to lease portions of the building. 

The upstairs has been vacant for a year, Harrison said, with little interest from potential tenants, which led to this new plan. “Our hope is that the common area will be used as a collaborative space,” that might include the potential for artists’ workshops or other classes, he said. 

The second floor of the former Artery building at the corner of Jefferson and Linden streets in downtown Fort Collins may be turned into co-housing by the end of August.

Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at patferrier@coloradoan.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.