ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Artists in the city of Elmira will soon have a place to live, work and collaborate. Arbor Housing and Development is working to secure final funding and develop what will soon be Gerard Block Apartments.

Related: Officials Review Designs for Lake Street Building Renovation Project

The vacant buildings on Lake Street will feature 28 apartments and eight studio spaces--all specifically designed for local artists. The space will also feature five storefronts for local businesses. 

The initial idea came about after a survey was distributed a few years ago in part by Three Rivers Development. The study found there is a need for housing and creative space for local artists throughout the area.

"Artist housing projects have been popping up all over the state," says Rocco Soda, Director of Real Estate Development. "Even though these are small cities--Elmira and Corning--we think there's a real need for artists to live together and create."

The buildings will feature both one and two bedroom apartments, both with income restrictions.

24 will be 1-bedroom and will range between 575 and 851 sq/ft with rent ranging between $500 and $565. These apartments are designed to be affordable, for those with $24,000 to $31,000 income limits. 

Additionally, four apartments will be 2-bedroom. Those will range in size from 881 to 962 sq/ft with rent set at $680.

The building, which was was home to Gerard's Hardware, is historic. Now Arbor is hoping to keep many of its original features. 

"We hired a local preservation architect," says Soda. "We've got the exposed brick and the high ceilings and we're going to restore the facade as close to the original condition as we can."

A final New York Restore grant application was just submitted and officials expect to hear back by December. Construction is expected to start by April and a majority of the apartments should be completed within one year.