|Live\work units at 860 View Street|
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I think that live/work spaces are great, they provide an alternative to just having townhouses or building commercial space that will sit vacant (or even worse, end up being a ground floor office). This type of space has become much more popular and in some cases it works and in others it doesn't. Here are a few around town that work or don't.
1030 Yates Street
|1030 Yates Street|
This project is perhaps the oldest of the buildings that I am looking at. It was built during the time when the plan for Harris Green was to have low-rise projects with various different street-front interactions. This building has three live/work spaces fronting onto Yates Street. One space is a hair salon and the other two are some sort of either financial planning space or wellness space. None of these are high traffic commercial spaces and it is unlikely they ever will be. Part of the challenge with these is that to further hedge their bets that no commercial would go into the spaces at all, each space has a large patio on the front that in some ways tells those walking by that they should keep on walking. That checking out the storefront in some way would trap you in the space.
|844 Johnson Street|
I put these two together as they are similar and were both built by David Chard. The 844 has three units along the front which look quite residential with small patios on the front. The Corazon has four units, each also with a small patio. The only difference between them is that one is on a busy street and one is on a quiet
|The Corazon units|
This building is somewhat unique in the city. It was also part of the same movement in Harris Green as 1030 Yates Street, but it presents in a much more urban way. Almost like a post-modern take on a New York brownstone. This building has four live/work units on the ground floor. Two of the spaces are being used as commercial and two of them seem to have been kept as residential. The only real flaw with the spaces is the tinting on the windows, as it prevents people from looking in. Still in comparison to 1030 Yates these spaces can be easily converted to useful commercial spaces if they needed to be. As this part of View Street stands now, I think that the spaces are likely as successful as they can be. Should the street change to need more commercial space, it will be easy to convert these units.
Hopefully the Ironworks building will provide units that can be flexible like the ones at 860 View Street but maybe look more like store fronts. The key challenge with the live/work model is that the spaces are still meant to be residential which precludes a large number of businesses. A true commercial space has more opportunities for use.
My central concern about the Ironworks proposal that sets it apart from the other examples downtown, is that this site still feels like a contiguous part of Old Town and is supposed to have real commercial spaces. I had imagined that this would have spaces more like the Union building on Fisgard Street. Of course, I still have not seen a rendering so I am keeping an open mind.
What are your thoughts on live/work going into this project?