The Mount Rainier Artspace building will feature 42 live/work units for lower income artists and their families. Apartments will range from 800-1700 square feet, one floor will feature lofted apartments with 19-foot ceilings. The building will contain a 3,000 square foot community meeting room and 22,000 square feet in new commercial space. Site control and acquisition and demolition money have been secured for this project. An application for low-income housing tax credits will be submitted to the State in October, 2001 (second submission). The lead tenant for the commercial space in the Mount Rainier Artspace building will be the Mount Rainier Library. The Artspace project offers a unique opportunity for an arts-housing-library partnership, and its schedule sets the pace for library project planning and funding.
Library Concept. The multi-service community library project will replace the decaying, 50-year-old, 1,200 square-foot facility, which may be vulnerable to closing. It will substantially increase facility size, hours of service, and anticipates an increase in the scope of programs and activities offered at this Prince George's County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) branch. The final plans for the new library are being established with the support of a design and feasibility study grant from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA), but preliminary planning including community meetings suggest that the final design for the library will include, in addition to the core library experience, dedicated children's programs and activities space, specialized art collection and media center for artists' use, community meeting facilities for gatherings of as many as 100 persons, plus smaller meeting rooms for mentoring and after-school study, a reading lounge, and a computer resource center for community use and access, in addition to any computer-based library reference services. The Friends of the Library, in association with the City of Mount Rainier, intend to encourage the use of green design in the library construction, and to achieve a design utilizing an open service configuration and substantial glass separators that will simplify facility supervision and management. Community service areas where library services are not provided will be designed to be accessible without requiring the library space to be open, thereby further increasing the potential for community use.
Economic Revitalization and Smart Growth. With increased size and services, the new multi-purpose community library will stimulate a sense of place and identity because it will serve as both a gathering place and as an activity generator. With a meeting/program room and events programming, the library's free programs for all age groups will give it broad appeal as a social and cultural gathering place. Further, like a food store, bakery, bank, and post office, the new library will generate a regular stream of foot traffic that brings customers and income to nearby businesses. This "activity" value of a library is the focus of a new generation of "smart growth" community libraries. Like Frostburg, Maryland, the new library will be placed as a stimulus for "main street" revitalization. Like Portland and Seattle, the library is partnering with a housing developer in a strategy of transit-oriented development that increases density and activity. The new library will both anchor and reinforce the art gallery-cafe-bookstore atmosphere that is a goal of the Prince George's County Arts District.
Multiple Partners. The library project has attracted a broad range of partnerships and support. A very brief petition drive collected well over 300 signatures. The project's membership and participants include local artists, computer experts (Electronic Village Group), and design professionals (City Design Review Board). The City Government is an administrative partner for the ATHA feasibility grant, which is exploring the idea of the new library serving as a tourist information center. Also, FOL is consulting with PGCMLS staff for advice on project planning, resource availability, and services management. Further, FOL and Artspace are planning a joint fundraising effort. FOL has done outreach to the Gateway towns and to the other towns and community groups in the library's service area.
Feasibility Study. The library feasibility study is underway and will be combined with a community design process conducted by architects from the architectural firm of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson(HGA), which is retained by Artspace. The library study will produce options for a facility ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. It will be followed by a fundraising campaign and a campaign to obtain the political support necessary to ensure that this project will be sustained over the long-term. Joint arts-library fiindraising is seen as a powerful, innovative approach. To facilitate coordination and clarify roles in a joint fundraising effort, a memorandum of understanding between FOL, Artspace. and possibly other partners, will be prepared.
Funding. For the library project, at least $400,000 is requested over two grant cycles, including the current year's request totaling $200,000 and at least $200,000 requested for the second year. The two years of funding will be dedicated solely for the cost of establishing a new community library project. The $200,000 requested in the current grant cycle includes $135,000 for initial construction planning, design and other early construction costs and $65,000 for project coordination (with $40,000 for a part-time project coordinator and $25,000 for a full-time assistant). The City of Mount Rainier will administer this funding in cooperation with the Friends of the Library. In the event that the Library - Artspace combination becomes unworkable, all funding will stay with the library project. For the library project, the balance of funds will be raised independently from other public and private sources, with total build-out and furnishings estimated to be about $1 million. Project grants will be sought for some specialized programs and activities, such as the computer resource center, artists' media center or specialized art collections.
Long-Term Support. After relocating to the new Mount Rainier Artspace building, the operating cost of the Mount Rainier branch library will increase due to larger size and more open hours. Presently, the Prince George's County Memorial Library System and the City of Mount Rainier fund the operation of the Mount Rainier branch, with PGCMLS managing library services. It is anticipated that the relocated branch library's open hours will increase to 40 hours a week from the present 32 hours weekly. Discussions with PGCMLS have indicated that they can support maintenance of comparable levels of service, with an increase to the target 40 hours per week more than likely. Comparable levels of service would enable the library, properly designed, to increase to as much as 5,000 square feet, with additional contiguous space for non-library service activities such as community meetings space and computer resource center, with service hours well beyond the 40 open hours of the library portion of the facility. The City of Mount Rainier will continue to cover utilities and maintenance expenses. The Friends of the Library will begin annual fundraising to support increased materials purchases for the branch, and will organize a volunteer pool to staff expanded programs and activities.
Click here for Community Legacy Award Letter from Paris N. Glendening, Governor