ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Within the next two years, the row of dilapidated homes on Lake Street in Elmira will be getting some much-needed upgrades.

Arbor Housing and Development is working with design-team Elise-Johnson Schmidt to develop and create the "Gerard Block Apartments." 

The plan is to have 28 apartments, mostly 1-bedroom with mixed use space in other parts of the building. And it's designed specifically for artists. 

"So we're looking at three areas for this project - one is the commercial space, the residential spaces, as well as the work space, and potential gallery space for artists," says Arbor Housing President and CEO Jeff Eaton. 

"It's another piece of that Downtown Revitalization puzzle that we're putting together. You know, we're looking to do both mixed-use and mixed-income housing in and around that kind of core of the downtown" says Mike Krusen, President of the Southern Tier Economic Growth Council (STEG). 

Of the 28 apartments, 24 will be 1-bedroom and come with a dishwasher and central air. Those apartments will range between 575 and 851 sq/ft with rent ranging between $500 and $565. The average utility cost is estimated to be around $103. These apartments are designed to be affordable, for those with $24,000 to $31,000 income limits. 

Additionally, four apartments will be 2-bedroom, also equip with a dishwasher and central air. Those will range in size from 881 to 962 sq/ft with rent set at $680 and an average utility cost of $125. These are designed for people with income limits between $32,000 and $51,000. 

The initial idea came from an "Art Space" survey about two years ago which had a goal of determining not only an interest, but also a need, for more space for people in the art community.

"That survey gave us a lot of detail, a lot of information which we then took and said, 'Alright how do we make this work?' So there's a conversation going on in Corning area, there's also a conversation going on here about creating a combination of work-space and live-space for artists," Eaton says. 

The overall cost of the project is upwards of $9 million, however, state grants and historic tax credits will offset many expenses. Eaton says about $500,000 is expected to come from the NY Restore grant, which STEG will match, along with approximately $300,000 from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative awarded to the City of Elmira. 

Once completed, the new facility will tie in with a number of other rehabilitation projects already underway in the downtown area. 

"It's really been those buildings that have been kind of that eyesore, you know, so having those buildings [rehabilitated], along with the bridge, you can really start to see that entire corridor take on a new, kind of visibility and a new life," Krusen says. 

Along with available studio and gallery space available to rent, there will be commercial space on the first floor. Eaton says three of those commercial spaces are already committed.

As for the timeline, the NY Restore grant application will be submitted in October and officials expect to hear a response by December or January. Looking ahead, they hope to close on construction by next April, and have the whole project completed by April of 2020.