The music room. )Courtesy of Alchemy by Alta) .

A Lower Haight Housing Project Shines the Spotlight on Local Artists

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High-polish condo buildings are rising at a break-neck clip all over San Francisco, touting all kinds of luxe amenities, cool design, and chill spaces to hang. But one new development is going a step further, reaching out into the Bay Area arts scene to curate an interesting calendar of events and foster a diverse, cultural community of artists, makers, and residents of all stripes.

Club House.


Alchemy by Alta, located at the corner of Buchanan and Waller Streets in the Lower Haight—adjacent to Waller Park and just a few-block walk from Maven's Chinatown duck sliders and craft beers at Toronado—is a 300-unit housing development with a concentration on art and design. While the building's current residents "represent a mix of San Francisco"—from yuppies to families to empty nesters—according to Jonathan Yarnold, SVP of marketing at the developer firm Wood Partners, the folks here share something in common: an interest in beauty, art, and sharing ideas.


Yes, the development is home to pricey apartments in typical SF fashion (one-bedrooms start at $3,674), and it has many of the elements you'd expect from modern, mixed-use communities (a sunny patio dotted with colorful furnishings, a community garden), as well as some you might not expect (a music/jam room and a fully functional bike shop). But Alchemy has added cool factor: Its Ground Floor Projectan initiative that's running at Wood Partners sister properties in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland as well as in SF—aims to discover emerging local talent in music, theater, dance, visual and culinary arts, and to give them a stage to share their crafts on what is literally the ground floor at Alchemy.



"The Ground Floor Project consists of ongoing programming, such as acoustic music shows, dance, and a variety of events encompassing local art," says Yarnold. Some events are open to residents only, but some are accessible to the local community at large, including frequently rotating displays of art at street level and on the rooftop patio.


Currently on view at the ground floor though October 28th are works from SF-based woodworker Nicole Sweeney and artist Lindsay Mullens, a former Anthropologie visual manager who combines her backgrounds in fashion and graphic design in stylized contemporary paintings. "The Ground Floor Project [gives artists] the space to show their work and an audience to show it to," says Tanya Bello, cultural development manager.


On September 18th, the Ground Floor Project will stage its first SF fashion show with Iranian-born, SF-based Nima Shiraz, who will present his fall collection—a sandy-hued ensemble of chic high-waisted trousers and cropped and cut-out tops. "We need more spaces like this, where you can show your work and people are open-minded," says Shiraz. "It is really unique—like having your friends at home." Shiraz's show will be open to Alchemy residents and invited guests. Check out the building's blog for more upcoming events. // Alchemy by Alta, 200 Buchanan St. (Lower Haight), alchemybyalta.com

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