A new future for live/work artists lofts in Oakland is here!

The City of Oakland and a group of local artists are working together to keep Oakland safe and affordable for artists.  Today, 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 will soon become 14 legal studios and 9 more work spaces.

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 project in West Oakland is a path forward for this one artist community and it can serve as a model for arts in the Bay Area!

Tanya Retherford is the local architect and member of the community of artists who are making it all happen. Like many great innovations, necessity was the mother of invention. Tanya was evicted from an unpermitted live/work space after the Ghost Ship.  To solve the affordable artist space problem she spoke to Tom Dolan, a pioneer in live/work spaces since the 1990s and they hatched a plan to do something big! When we say big we mean safe, legal, healthy, and for use by a community of 50!

Tanya found an amazing old warehouse in, negotiated a 15 year lease with option to buy with the owner and worked with the city to increase the allowed occupancy from 4 people to 14.  The 4 person limit for live/work spaces has limited that mode of living from being a viable solution for artists.  Now, these 14 apartments can truly be affordable and this building can truly be a model for a shared, creative community.

If you are considering converting a warehouse or building to live/work in Oakland, then here’s the schedule and step-by-step guide!

Tanya is specializing in this type of work and you can set up a design session with her here!

  • April 2017: Tanya found the space
  • May 2017: Started some design concepts
  • June: Preliminary permit research
  • June/July: Negotiating 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!
  • 11/13/17: Permit is officially approved and the local appeal period has expired.
  • December (est): Submit building permit application
  • 1/31 (est): Building permit issued
  • 2/1/18 – 9/1/18: Construction
  • Burning Man
  • Move in!

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