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?