The City of Oakland and a group of local artists are working together to keep Oakland safe and affordable for artists. In June of 2017, Oakland planning department approved the permits for the first large scale live/work loft in the city. A 15,000-square-foot empty warehouse in West Oakland would soon become 14 legal studios and 9 more work spaces. This project in West Oakland is a path forward for this artist community, and it can serve as a model for arts in the Bay Area.
After the tragedy of the Ghost Ship, the necessary evictions of many artist live/work spaces made the housing crisis of the Bay Area even worse. Few artists can afford to stay without living in dangerous places.
This issue hit close to home for one New Avenue partner architect. She was evicted from an unpermitted live/work space after the Ghost Ship fire.
That made necessity the mother of invention. To solve the affordable artist space problem, the displaced architect worked with an expert in live/work spaces to do something big. When we say big, we mean safe, legal, healthy, and for use by a community of 50.
The New Avenue partner architect found an amazing old warehouse and negotiated a 15-year lease with option to buy. She also tackled a serious problem: the four-person limit for live/work spaces. The limit has kept rents high, which meant live/work spaces were out of reach for most local artists. The architect worked with the city to increase the allowed occupancy from 4 to 14.
Now, these 14 apartments can truly be affordable, and this building can be a model for a shared, creative community.
If you are considering converting a warehouse or building into a live/work space in Oakland, take a look at the West Oakland project’s schedule.
- April 2017: Found the space
- May 2017: Started some design concepts
- June 2017: Preliminary permit research
- June/July 2017: Negotiated the lease with the owner
- October 15: Submitted the planning permit application (~$4,000 + $500 for expediting). They paid for expediting and got an approval in 1 week!
- November 2017: The permit was officially approved, and the local appeal period expired.
- December 2017: Submitted building permit application
- January 2018: Building permit was issued
- February through September 2018: Construction
- August 25–September 3, 2018: Burning Man
- September 2018: Move in!
The New Avenue partner architect who spearheaded the project specializes in this type of work, and her knowledge and experience sped up the whole process. When you sign up with New Avenue, you can set up a design session with her or another highly skilled, knowledgeable architect who will help your project run smoothly.
You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started
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