Nick and Ashley Nardone, standing on the balcony of their new loft, are the first owners of one of the 12 artist townhouses on Lucerne Avenue. The lofts were built as live-work spaces, with studios downstairs. “We have been here about two and half weeks,” said Nick. “We want to do it really neat and industrial.” Said Ashley: “I never thought I would have studio space. It is a dream.” Photo: Bruce Bennett
After years of planning, artists are moving into the Urban Arts Lofts – a dozen townhouses along Lucerne Avenue and North F Street that were built for artists with living space upstairs and ground-floor studios.

Nick and Ashley Nardone, just married in January, moved to Lake Worth from Broward County in early June to become the first owners of an artist loft. They paid $137,000 for their two-bedroom, 2.5-bath loft, which they say will fit their creative lifestyles perfectly.

Nick Nardone, 26, is a bass guitarist and a technician with the Apple store in Boca Raton. Ashley Nardone, 27, designs and builds displays for the Anthropologie store in Boca Raton. She’s also a photographer, graphic designer, screen printer and music video producer.

The Nardones built their own furniture for their wedding using scrap wood. A table in their downstairs studio space consists of a discarded door attached to legs made from wood scraps and parts of an old bed frame.

“We’re always working on stuff, learning things,” Nick Nardone said. “We pride ourselves on not having cable or TV.”

The Nardones plan to set up a small photo studio, a music practice space and a work bench for assembling creative works in the ground-floor studio space of their loft.

They’re looking forward to doing creative projects with friends Curtis and Annie Spoerlein, owners of the custom furniture shop Maestria Decor on North Dixie Highway. The Spoerleins are buying an Art Deco-style loft just south of the Nardones.

The Spoerleins say they plan to build the furniture for their new townhome and invite some customers upstairs to see their work.

“It’s a dream come true for us,” Curtis Spoerlein said, noting that he and his wife moved to South Florida from Chicago three years ago. “When we came to Lake Worth, we wanted a place where we could live and work.”

The Spoerleins plan to keep their garage-like studio on North Dixie Highway, but they plan to bring work home to the downstairs studio of their loft from time to time.

“We’re the type of people who, if we wake up at 3 in the morning and want to do some work, we will,” Curtis Spoerlein said.

The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency built the artist lofts using money from a $23.2 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant. The townhomes for artists are part of the CRA’s long-term plan to use art as a redevelopment tool.

The artist lofts are expected to help the city achieve its goal of expanding the downtown west of Dixie Highway.

To further the creation of an arts hub west of Dixie Highway, the CRA also is applying for a state grant to renovate the shuffleboard building, just east of the new artist lofts, as an art center.

City officials also are considering art-related uses for a city building on F Street north of Lucerne Avenue and for a former beer warehouse donated to the city on Second Avenue South.

WANT A LOFT?

Townhomes at Lucerne Avenue and F Street in Lake Worth are still being sold to artists as live/work spaces. Buyers must prove they are artists and meet income guidelines to buy one of the lofts. To download an application form, go to www.lakeworthnsp.org. For information, call the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency at 561-493-2550

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