A historic Californian adobe. Small modern houses. A straw bale art gallery. Most people would probably not see any connection between these three concepts. But the city of San Luis Obispo and two local associations say they have found one.
Waterman Peace Village, a project in its early planning stages, proposes to rehabilitate Rosa Butron de Canet Adobe, an 1850s adobe house on Dana Street near downtown SLO, and add a art studio and up to 20 small houses around.
Seen as a âliving demonstrationâ of sustainability, affordability and mindful living, the city recently partnered with The Peace Project and Smart Share Housing Solutions to begin planning and fundraising for the business.
âWe were receptive to it from the start,â said Bob Hill, SLO City’s director of natural resources. New times. âThe city has four adobe structures, all in various states of repair and in need of special attention. The city takes seriously our obligation to manage and restore these historic resources. We want things to happen there. We want them to be active and dynamic.
Angela Tahti, consultant for The Peace Project, a creation of local artist and sculptor David Settino Scott, pioneered the concept of the project over a year ago.
Tahti said she had approached the city looking for potential properties for the Scott’s Peace Project – a proposed new art studio and sculpture gallery focused on the themes of “compassion, empathy and gratitude.” and designed by renowned local architect Ken Haggard.
âBy contacting the city, we learned of the existence of these adobes,â said Tahti, former executive director of ARTS Obispo. “Bob [Hill] said, ‘Let’s go see Dana Street.’ ”
Donated to the city in 1989, Canet Adobe’s Rosa Butron has since remained virtually intact. In the early years of adobe, it was used as a place for citizens to post legal notices, as it predated any local newspaper. For most of the 20th century, it served as the residence of Mildred Waterman and her partner, Mary Gail Black, a prominent journalist for the Telegram-Tribune, who passed the adobe on to the city after his death on the condition that his next incarnation include “Waterman” in the title.
Shaded by various mature heirloom trees including avocados, pecans, oaks, and redwoods, the old adobe now sits quietly in the center of its creek-side lot. When Tahti first visited the roughly three-quarters acre property, she said it seemed ripe for something special.
âThe property was just magical,â Tahti said. âWe thought, ‘Oh, we can really do something here.’ And if we could save adobe Rosa Butron from further disrepair, so much the better. ”
It seemed like a win-win, but before the city cemented the partnership, it wanted to give other organizations a chance to pitch their ideas. SLO issued a ârequest for informationâ and received a response from Smart Share Housing Solutions, a local non-profit organization dedicated to connecting residents with affordable housing.
Anne Wyatt, executive director of Smart Share, said the group was looking for property for a small village when she saw the town’s ad and applied. She said the Tiny Houses, which were recently legalized in SLO Town, didn’t grow as much as Smart Share hoped when the organization hosted a Tiny House exhibit in 2019.
âWhat we saw is minimal,â Wyatt said. “For a number of reasons it didn’t take off.”
SLO officials asked the two groups if they could find synergy in their projects, and it didn’t take long for the art and housing camps to find common ground. Hill noted that the city immediately saw the potential benefits of a shared project, combining city goals like affordable housing, historic preservation, diversity and inclusion.
âIt looked like we had all of our goals together,â Hill said.
Haggard, the architect of the Peace Project, who is an industry pioneer in sustainable construction (he co-authored California’s first handbook on passive solar energy), also saw small homes as a big boost. thumb to the project.
âThe combination with lowercase has allowed us to solve many modern societal issues: affordability, transportation, utilities, miniaturization of infrastructure,â Haggard said. New times. âHistorically, the original village – the indigenous village – was right there. I liked the idea of ââthe village going away, and we will have a new village coming. There is a symmetry there. ”
The Peace Project studio is proposed to go next to the adobe and would be built using straw bale construction and other recycled materials. Once completed, Scott’s âA Pure Workingâ – a collection of busts honoring those who have self-sacrificed in the name of peace – would be housed inside. The studio would also have space for rotating exhibitions as well as small public lectures, workshops and events.
âHopefully the studio part will evoke the original architecture to some extent,â Haggard said. âThat’s originally why those adobes worked pretty well – you have thermal mass. [straw bale] the insulation value is twice the norm. ”
Next, the proposed cottages would line the perimeter of the property – raised above ground due to the creek’s floodplain, with utilities running under a walkway between the homes, according to the developers.
Ranging in size from 150 to 300 square feet each, Wyatt of Smart Share said the cottages will be used exclusively for low-income residents who can engage in a sustainable, community-focused living experience. Wyatt noted that she hopes to pave the way for home ownership, where residents could eventually become owners of their tiny home, with the underlying land remaining with the city.
At the center of the property, as always, will be the Rosa Butron by Canet Adobe. The groups say they plan to jointly raise funds to help rehabilitate the main adobe structure, which would eventually be open for public tours, with historical exhibits and offices for both organizations inside.
Both parts of the project will be expensive: around $ 2.5 million each, they said. On September 7, the SLO city council approved a two-year bargaining agreement that gives them time to show progress in fundraising and planning before plans move forward. All stakeholders said there is a long way to go, with many opportunities for public input to come.
âWe want to know if this is a feasible project,â Hill said with SLO city. “They’re pretty active and ambitious, though, and I’m excited about it.” ??
Associate Editor Peter Johnson can be contacted at [email protected]