A large canopy was erected yesterday afternoon to protect everyone against either hot sun or rain during the grand opening of the Oak Street Lofts. It wasn’t necessary because the sunny day was perfect – just like the new 37 energy efficient, artist-friendly rental units that were cause for the celebration – a celebration that ran from 3 pm to 4:30 pm and was hosted by Avesta Housing, building developer.
Ingrid Grins, an abstract and portrait oil painter, moved into the Lofts earlier this year. Grins, who was one of the ribbon cutters in the celebration, was enthusiastic about her new apartment. She’s able to paint in her apartment which matters to her. There is a common room on the second floor open to artists, but she prefers her own apartment in which to paint. On the first floor there is an attractive art gallery available to residents. Grins just completed an art show in which she hung thirty-eight paintings and was successful in selling some of them. Grins, orginally from Chicago, studied at the Chicago Art Institute. She moved to Portland to be closer to her daughter who lives in the area several years ago.
Jessica Tomlinson, Director of Public Relations at the Maine College of Art, which is close by on Congress Street, was one of the several dignitaries who spoke at the grand opening. She recalled that fifteen years ago, “MECA” purchased the vacated Porteous, Mitchell and Braun building in what had become a downtrodden corridor. Since then, “the arts district has blossomed and become a national destination…this building is important because so often, artists are responsible for the re-birth of an area and then the first to be priced out….with this building, Avesta is investing in the creative economy of Portland and creating a beautiful place for artists to call home.”
Other speakers included: Mayor Michael Brennan, Councilor David Marshall, and Dana Connors, President of Maine Chamber of Commerce.
Currently all thirty-seven units are rented. If you qualify, rents range from $506-760/month, utilities and wireless internet included. The building is LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. A total of 332 construction workers worked on the Lofts.