Artist lofts will soon grace downtown Hastings, the river city that’s become a canvas for creativity in recent years.

The $11.7 million project developed by Minneapolis nonprofit Artspace gained final approval by the City Council on Monday after more than two years of public discussion. Artspace project managers have worked with the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council on the 37-unit affordable housing complex — Artspace’s first in Twin Cities suburbia. Construction will begin this summer at the corner of E. 2nd and Tyler streets.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Mecca Page, who founded BreakAway Arts in Hastings last summer. The center now has more than 100 members who pay monthly fees for discounted art classes, and Page said at least 10 members have expressed interest in applying for the new housing.

“We believe more is better,” Page said. “More artists in a community make it more vibrant. More art galleries in an area means you have more tourism.” Page hopes to add a cafe this summer to sustain longer events and programming.

The growth of Hastings’ artist community draws from the arrival of arts-related businesses like Page’s and other newcomers specializing in theater and music.

A 2014 study by Artspace and the Arts Council showed a demand for artist housing in Hastings, which has been redeveloping its downtown. A majority of respondents said they earned less than the city’s median income, but only 10 percent relied on art — ranging from art therapy to writing, music and theater — as their sole income. Artspace gives priority to artist residents, though it’s not exclusive.

The Hastings lofts will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments priced for tenants at 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. Construction is expected to conclude by summer 2017.

The lofts will feature views of the Mississippi River and the Hwy. 61 bridge.

“We’re trying to be a part of both the arts side of things and also be a part of the riverfront renaissance,” said Artspace project manager Becky Carlson St. Clair.

The Hastings site will join Artspace’s other living and working spots in Minneapolis-St. Paul, including the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis. Elsewhere in Minnesota, it has studios in Duluth, lofts in Fergus Falls and the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd. The organization has properties in large cities like New York and Los Angeles and smaller towns in Iowa and North Dakota.