Ventura, California's New Eco-Minded Art Colony

The arts are now becoming a housing trend in California. First we saw a Burbank senior housing complex with an arts focus and now a mixed-use, mixed-income artists' complex in Ventura.

Downtown Ventura recently welcomed artists with a unique live/work complex called WAV (Working Artists Ventura). It offers 69 affordable apartments and 13 market-rate condominiums, set in an eco-certified building that's just blocks from the beach.

Developed by Place, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that promotes new models for urban neighborhoods, the $57-million WAV project was built on city land that stood empty for more than 30 years. Now in place of a vacant brownfield, Ventura has a gleaming, contemporary, 130,000-square-foot compound centered around an outdoor common area.

The 54 available live/work spaces are in high demand: 894 requests were received for the subsidized rentals. And they're pretty great spaces; they benefit from lots of natural light, and they also have quadruple-paned windows for quiet and insulation, and concrete floors.

Residents of the four-story buildings were selected by a lengthy interview process, and those chosen promise to support the burgeoning arts community. They include painters, ceramicists, jewelry-makers, art photographers and a dulcimer player.

WAV's market rate condominiums (priced from $625,000 to $875,000) are now for sale, and though they've generated much interest, will buyers opt-in?
Incentives to buyers include a free hybrid car with purchase and no electric bills ever, as the condominium units are solar-powered. The three-story condos, with rooftop decks, range from 1,658 to 1,789 square feet, have views of the ocean, the mountains and Ventura's historic downtown, and come with other green extras such as Energy Star appliances and low-flow Caroma dual-flush toilets. Plus, the complex is within walking distance of the beach.

Doug Moe, of Keller Williams Realty, who is repping the 13 units, believes that WAV is a one-of-a-kind property for the seaside town. "The residences require buyers who appreciate artists and want to be part of a community," he says.

Although some lower priced townhomes are for sale nearby, those units are more than eight years old and priced accordingly, notes Moe.

WAV's forward thinking configuration comes with an upmarket price tag: per the Los Angeles Times and Data Quick statistics', the average price per square foot for condominiums in the same zip code is $274; WAV's pricing is $368 per square foot.

However, buyers will be living green and helping underwrite WAV's community. Besides the artists, and the public who flock to Ventura's ArWalks and galleries, it includes those at 15 Section-8 apartments that provide transitional housing for those in need.

PLACE's Chris Velasco credits the people of Ventura for galvanizing civic leaders and investors behind the project. Hundreds came out for WAV's recent launch party, and the mixed-use development is a landmark project for the city. As a showcase for affordable housing and green design, WAV is featured on Ventura's upcoming Tour du Green bike and sustainable-building tour scheduled for May 15.

In addition to WAV's live/work space, the project of has 6,100 square feet of ground-floor retail space for lease.

A gallery/theater space is open to all residents free of charge; and an upcoming programming includes a one-woman show by a WAV resident.

WAV is a novel development; the artist/residents are certainly pleased, and it will be interesting to see if buyers get it too.

See more Ventura, California homes for sale at AOL Real Estate.
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