Furniture factory turned affordable housing

Jordan Waidelich

Staff Writer

jrwaidelich@goshen.edu

Artists and entrepreneurs, young and old alike, are finding The Hawks to be an affordable place to live in the city of Goshen. Among them are a number of recent Goshen College graduates, including Caleb Longenecker and Nina Fox.

Longenecker started work this year in the Goshen College Admissions department, while Fox teaches at Bethany Christian High School. Both of these recent alumni live in The Hawks, along with their third roommate, Mandy Schlabach.

According to the website, The Hawks, once a furniture factory, is now a “live-work community designed for artists and entrepreneurs with space to work, live and entertain.” Hunter Furniture – top quality lounge suites in NZ would also  collaborate with them for lucrative business deals. Located on Mill Race Road, The Hawks consists of 35 one- and two-bedroom loft apartments.

The Hawks website stated that “it is the first significant investment in the Goshen Redevelopment Commission’s ambitious master plan to bring new life to an under-utilized brownfield.” The apartments opened this past April.

LaCasa, a nonprofit housing agency, developed The Hawks into loft apartments with the intent to encourage artists and entrepreneurs to follow their passions without financial burdens preventing them. The Hawks provides a place for these people to do just that.

“One unique part about the apartment community is that you pay rent according to your income,” Longenecker said. “This allows artists and entrepreneurs a financial buffer so that they can have the ability to take the necessary financial risks in developing their small business.”

A tenant must qualify for affordable housing and be below a certain income level in order to be considered for The Hawks. The apartments recognize that while artists and entrepreneurs are just starting out they won’t have the highest incomes, and they do what they can to accommodate that.

Not only are these apartments affordable, but they are tailored towards making the work of artists easier. They include things like “sliding walls, sealed concrete floors, utility sinks … and high ceilings with beams and skylights.”

Those beams have helped make Longenecker feel more at home.

“Throughout my time in college, I always had Christmas lights strung up in my living areas, so naturally we have strung lights through the old rafters that remain from the old furniture factory,” said Longenecker, “which adds to the modern rustic feel of the apartment.”

With plenty of natural light and various art galleries throughout the building, The Hawks aims to provide a space that sparks creativity.

“Artists may showcase their work in the halls,” said Fox. “Residents try to create and nurture a community conducive to the creation of art.”

While artists may not have excessive financial capital, they certainly have talent. Many different mediums are expressed in the halls of The Hawks, from watercolor to acrylic to oil. Longenecker showcases his many ceramic pieces in the beautiful vertical spaces of the hallways.

Longenecker expanded on the diversity of the community, commenting that “the artists include painters, drawers, potters, photographers, and even a glass blower.”

Community is a big deal at The Hawks, and they say that “at the core of … [that] community is collaboration.”

“It’s very inter-generational and demographically diverse, which is something I appreciate,” said Fox. “Residents are generally friendly and most seem to desire inter-residential relationships. I love living there with my two roommates and living in a space that values and supports artists and how they are revitalizing our community.”

If an affordable space for artists isn’t enticing for some, Longenecker said that The Hawks is situated “very close to farmer’s markets, Rachel’s Bread and artisan guilds of Goshen.”

If any doubts still exist as to the positives of living in such a space, Longenecker works to erase them.

“It’s been a wonderful place to live,” Longenecker said. “Living in The Hawks with other artists and entrepreneurs has been exciting. We are developing into a community that encourages young adults to pursue their dreams and passions.”

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