Denver Lofts

Established in 1858 on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver began as a gold mining town. Since then, the Mile High City, which gets its nickname for its elevation has become a major metropolitan hub in the midwest. With its mild climates, beautiful scenery, rapidly growing population, and an unlikely locale for major tech companies, Denver shows no signs of slowing down.

Built in 1903 for the Littleton Creamery and later Beatrice Foods Cold Storage Warehouse, the building was lauded for its practical and functioning use as cold storage for 80 years. In 1990, it was converted into New York-style lofts with original exposed brick walls, ductwork, and beams, as well as original arched windows and hardwood floors. The Ice House Lofts is located in a desirable neighborhood that is within walking distance to main restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Ice House Lofts

Located in lower downtown Denver (LoDo), Acme Lofts was built in 1909 before being converted in 1992. Former tenants of the building included Brecht Chocolate and Candies and the Acme Upholstery Company. Many units have expansive views and fireplaces, as well as communal amenities like a rooftop deck, extra storage, and underground parking.

Acme Lofts

If former warehouses and factories are not to your liking, there are plenty of other architectural styles to choose from. The Chamber Lofts were named after its former tenant, the Denver Chamber of Commerce. The neoclassical-revival building now offers loft-style apartments with 12-foot ceilings, modern kitchens, and plenty of natural light. Or if art-deco is more in line with your tastes, Buerger Brothers Lofts was previously headquarters of their namesake, which was the western region’s top barber and beauty shop.

Chamber Lofts

Fort Worth Lofts

Fort Worth has played an integral role in Texas’s history beginning as a frontier town in 1849. With the arrival of a railway, Fort Worth became an epicenter of the ranching industry, as well as oil and aviation. The once small cattle town is now a major city in America, with continuing roots in transportation, business, and military. Many of the city’s architecture hints at its rich past, ranging from posts of the frontier days, to art-deco, to skyscrapers. And thanks to its history, economy, and affordable housing, the population of Fort Worth continues to climb.

The Supreme Golf Warehouse was originally built in 1913 for the Fort Worth Warehouse. A century later in 2013, it was converted into 23 loft units. Classic loft detailing includes concrete floors, exposed brick and ductwork, and historic light fixtures, while some units also contain the original storage locker doors.

Supreme Golf Warehouse

Sawyer Grocery was built by the same developers of the Golf Warehouse and is a former grocery store that originated in 1888. With only 14 units, the industrial apartments feature original hardwood flooring, as well as a slew of commercial occupants on this historic main street.

Sawyer Grocery

Built in 1929 with previous tenants including J.C. Penney and N.C. Hall’s Jewelers, the Sanger Lofts is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was renovated in 1986 into 59 loft apartments. These popular units are conveniently located within walking distance of 30+ dining options, major retailers, movie theaters and concert halls.

Sanger Lofts

Houston Lofts

Much like its coastal counterparts in New York City and Los Angeles, Houston boasts an impressive number of loft options. In fact, there are more historical lofts, both residential and commercial, in Houston than any other city in Texas. Combining a rich history (including the Great Depression and both world wars) with the modern practicality of today, loft spaces have become increasingly popular.

In 1910, the Bayou Lofts was the headquarters for the Southern Pacific Railroad, where major decisions regarding transportation across the country were made. However in 1997, the building was heavily remodeled into over 100 lofts with high ceilings, brick exteriors, and original hardwood floors. It even features a rooftop swimming pool for its residents.

Bayou Lofts

Another converted loft building in the historic downtown of Houston are the Franklin Lofts. When first built in 1904, it housed the First National Bank and was considered the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi at a whopping eight stories tall. Although the interior has been completely renovated and upgraded with new electrical and plumbing systems, 11-18 foot ceilings, and stainless steel appliances, the exterior of the building has remained remarkably true to its origins.

Other notable converted lofts include City View Lofts, a former cookie factory originally constructed in 1910 for Nabisco;  Post Rice Lofts, a renovation of the historic Rice Hotel with 100-year-old maple hardwood floors; and Hermann Lofts, one of the first loft conversion projects in Houston that also once doubled as headquarters for the Salvation Army. Hermann Lofts is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

San Francisco Lofts

Even before earning its reputation as a leading tech hub and one of the most expensive places to live in America, live/work lofts were in high demand. In 1853, a four-story center called the Montgomery Block was primarily rented by artists and writers for cheap. For nearly 100 years, this block-long warehouse became a mecca for creative-types, before it was demolished in 1959. The decades that followed saw many artists seeking out alternative living spaces, including old warehouses and factories, with many squatting or otherwise inhabiting the space illegally. As the city grew, most of these artistic types found themselves with eviction notices when the buildings changed ownership with plans for construction. Even the buildings that were officially designed as live/work spaces for artists were eventually phased out by the tech boom. Today, lofted spaces are heavily occupied by those in the tech or startup world.

The Pacific Mail Steamship Company built the Oriental Warehouse in 1867, the first firm to offer mail, passenger and trader service between the United States and the Orient. In 1996, it was converted into a 66-unit loft building. Many include original exposed wood beams, 20-foot ceilings and plenty of natural light. It is located in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, a block away from the Embarcadero Waterfront, within walking distance to the Financial District, Ferry Building, and AT&T Park.

Oriental Warehouse Lofts at 650 Delancey

Built in 1907 for a printing firm, the Clock Tower is also located in the South Beach neighborhood and boasts 127 live/work lofts. It is considered a historical landmark and even has a unit inside the actual clock tower. The heavily remodeled building includes materials such as clock timber, masonry, and concrete, as well as extensive landscaping that includes a courtyard with palm trees and a rooftop deck with city views.

Clock Tower

Another historic property built in 1916 known as the Heublein Building has been unofficially credited as the first loft conversion in the city, undergoing its renovations in 1989. Located in the SOMA neighborhood, units feature original industrial windows and exposed concrete.

Heublein Building

Originally constructed in 1857 and considered one of the city’s oldest buildings, the Harbor Lofts (originally known as the Hathaway Warehouse) was converted to 46 live/work loft units in 1996. Unit sizes are as small as 650 square feet, or as large as 1700 square feet.

Harbor Lofts

Seattle Lofts

Most recently, the city of Seattle has built the reputation of a tech mecca, home to Amazon, as well as a slew of startups. However, it is also a city rich in culture, music, and the arts. As with most major cities, artists were designated to industrial lofts, as the spaces were relatively cheaper than other housing options. In more recent years, lofts and other industrial-styled spaces have become very popular for both living and work.

In this rapidly growing city, new and modern loft-style apartments have been built in neighborhoods such as South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. However, there are true artist lofts that still remain today that have undoubtedly inspired others to sprout around the city. There are two main districts that are well-known for their “original” artist lofts; SoDo and Pioneer Square. Once known for their large industrial spaces, many of these older buildings have been converted to be used as live/work lofts.

The area of SoDo was originally an abbreviation of South of (King) Dome. When the dome was demolished in 2000, SoDo became known as an abbreviation of South of Downtown. The name is also intended to reflect SoHo in New York as both cities have a similar history and demographics and have experienced the same effects on the property market from regulations regarding live/work spaces. In both cases, artists have flocked to these areas of the cities in the 1970s to live in abandoned loft spaces of warehouses and factories. More recently however, many buildings were converted into art galleries, restaurants or shops.

Pioneer Square also became a popular area for artists during the 1970s for very similar reasons. It was considered a cheap place to live and there was good availability of unused warehouses and retired factories. The style of the buildings were perfect as the buildings have rooms that boast high ceilings and tall windows. Some of the most notable buildings in this area now are Tashiro Kaplan Artist’s Lofts and the Bemis Building, both of which are now finished in a contemporary style with luxury fittings.

Tashiro Kaplan Building

Many of the artist lofts and studios in Pioneer Square have been renovated to the highest standard and now provide luxury living accommodations, as well as work spaces. While the original accommodations were inexpensive and attracted artists on a low income, these properties now appeal to the higher end of the market as they have risen significantly in value and appeal.

A prime example of a Seattle loft is at The Lofts on 3rd Avenue which was built in 1909. It is possible to buy a loft measuring 1,870 square feet for just under $700,000. The interior features bespoke fittings and exposed brick, giving it the true feel of living in an industrial space. Amenities include elevators and a rooftop deck that provides panoramic urban views.

The Lofts on 3rd

Washington DC Lofts

As America’s sixth largest metropolitan area, Washington D.C. attracts a demographic more diverse than just politicians. Although there is a large political presence, Washington D.C. also provides a deep cultural and historical aspect that is prevalent in its streets, buildings, and atmosphere. In fact, many loft conversions in the D.C. area are considered historical landmarks, and includes former warehouses, factories, military land, and schools.

One such conversion is the Foundry Lofts.  Recycled from a historic Navy Yard industrial building, the Foundry Lofts offer 170 loft-style apartments, including 33 two-level units. They are located in a highly coveted neighborhood known as the Yards, convenient to metro entrances, restaurants and other retail. Most units feature hardwood floors, exposed brick and concrete, industrial light fixtures, 14-foot ceilings, expansive industrial windows, and communal spaces including a lounge, fitness center, and a courtyard.

Foundry Lofts

There is also a surplus of closed schoolhouses in Washington D.C. Many of these buildings are vacant or considered condemned due to heavy deterioration. However, over 25 schools have been converted into living units or other usable spaces such as community centers.

Built in 1885, the Wormley School,  was a school for African American children until it closed in 1952. Georgetown University purchased the school in 1998, where it sat vacant until 7 years later when it was sold to a developer. There are 13 unique condos at what is now known as the Wormley Row Condos. It features the original brick facade, while the interior consists of luxury modern furnishings including recessed lighting, high ceilings, custom cabinetry, and an underground parking garage.

Wormley School

Other notable schoolhouse-to-loft conversions include the Edmonds School, originally built in 1903, with 24 units on a street of other historic row houses. Another is the Berret School Lofts, named after the James G. Berret School, which was built in 1889 and previously used as a methadone clinic and homeless shelter. These former classrooms, with their classic architecture and upgraded modern conveniences, have become highly coveted real estate for homebuyers.

In neighboring Alexandria, VA, a factory originally built in 1847 has been given new life as a loft conversion. It has been home to the Mount Vernon Cotton Factory, the Robert Portner Brewing Company, storage for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Express Spark Plug Company of America, and headquarters for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The Mill now offers 1-2 bedroom apartments with modern upgrades in an impressively preserved industrial property.

The Mill

As home to America’s politics and government, many historical buildings in Washington D.C. have at one time housed famous tenants. 2029 Connecticut, built in 1916 before undergoing major renovations offers only 26 units and was once home to President William Howard Taft. Down the street is 2101 Connecticut, built in 1928, which offers some of the largest units, including a 4-bedroom condo.

Artist Lofts in New York

Former work/live lofts of Donald Judd on 101 Spring Street:

Once upon a time, there were areas of New York City, such as SoHo, that were once considered undesirable. Over the last four decades, property values and demand have skyrocketed. In the 1970s, lofts were used primarily by poor and struggling artists who could not afford a separate space to work and live. Inevitably though, these properties became highly valuable and coveted.

Former work/live lofts of Donald Judd on 101 Spring Street:
Former work/live lofts of Donald Judd on 101 Spring Street:

There were growing concerns that the city’s planning commission would demolish and replace the older buildings with high-rise apartments. Real estate developers were highly interested in the SoHo area in particular, for not only their location, but because during the time, the properties could be bought for relatively cheap. When the area began to grow, with numerous boutiques and galleries opening in the area, the pressure to develop the large and cheap lofts became further appealing for developers.

In 1982, the New York state legislature established the Loft Law, which was intended to enforce landlords to bring illegal living spaces up to code and standards. Unfortunately, the new law had devastating consequences. Many landlords simply evicted their illegal tenants, while others dramatically increased rent to exorbitant rates to help cover renovation costs. Most artists would be essentially forced out by rents they could no longer afford.

Artists were then forced to look elsewhere for affordable accommodations for living and work, such as Tribeca and NoHo. Many factories in these area had shut down and the industrial spaces with high ceilings were ideal places for artists. However, it wasn’t long before artists were priced out of these areas as well by development and increasing rent prices. In fact, many current lofts in Tribeca are now considered luxury apartments, a far cry from its humbler beginnings.

Artists chose NoHo for many of the same reasons, as it was cheap to live and there were industrial buildings with large interior spaces. Many famous artists lived in the NoHo neighborhood at this time, including Jean Michel Basquait. This New York-born artist created some of his best pieces in his loft on Great Jones Street in NoHo. It was also there that he died from a heroin overdose in 1988 at the age of just 27. It is now privately owned but is available to rent.

While once inhabited by the poor, that is is no longer the case. Thanks to their desirable aesthetics of high ceilings, big windows, natural light, and industrial appearance, in addition to prime locations in the city, lofts have become the quintessential city abodes for those who can afford them. A great example are these former artists’ lofts that are along Leonard Street in the TriBeCa neighborhood. At the top-end of the market is an apartment for sale for just short of $5,00,000 that offers 1,668 square feet of open-plan living, and a bespoke interior that retains many of the original features of the building. The apartment has its own sun terrace and many other amenities available within the building. These include a pool, a screening room, a sundeck, a library, storage for bicycles and a playroom.




Los Angeles Artist Lofts

Artist lofts in Los Angeles, California, were once the dwellings of struggling artists who had taken residence in old industrial buildings as they couldn’t afford rent in conventional apartments. In downtown Los Angeles, the Arts District has historically housed struggling artists. This area was once covered in vineyards before the industrial boom at the turn of the 20th century, when many industrial buildings were built. During the 1970s, artists began to use the unused industrial buildings for housing after being priced out of more established neighborhoods such as Hollywood or Venice.

One of the most famous structures in the Arts District is the James K. Hill and Sons Pickle Works Building, which was built in 1888 and was once the residence of artist Carlton Davis. Davis used the space to create a rogue gallery called the Art Dock to display his works, and the work of many other artists between 1981 and 1985.

Today, loft spaces in downtown Los Angeles are much sought after, and developers have been scrambling to create unique apartments within any industrial and historical buildings. Lawrence Scarpa, famous architect who is best known for converting unused industrial spaces into contemporary loft apartments using unusual materials, is a modern example of this growing trend.

Fuller Lofts, a converted building dating back to 1921
Fuller Lofts, a converted building dating back to 1921

While downtown Los Angeles remains a popular area for people creatives and entrepreneurs, it is not the only designated area for loft-style buildings. One of the most popular is Little Tokyo and there are many traditional artist lofts for rent or for sale in this area. Little Tokyo is the neighboring district of Downtown, and as such, it was a natural progression of artists to spread. In fact, many people consider Little Tokyo to be part of the Arts District of Los Angeles. Residents of this area took over the disused industrial buildings and completely transformed them into stunning live and work spaces. The lower levels of the buildings were generally converted into shops and restaurants.

Picture of Little Tokyo
Picture of Little Tokyo

Other famous loft buildings include the Brewery Art Colony. Covering 16 acres and 21 former warehouses, the Brewery Art Colony is the largest live-and-work artist’s colony anywhere in the world. The warehouses are split into living lofts, work studios, galleries, and restaurants.

The complex was originally the Edison Electric Steam Power Plant and was built between 1894 and 1903. An interesting architectural feature is the chimney. It later became a Pabst Blue Brewery before being converted into artist’s lofts in 1982.

Picture of The Brewery Art Colony
Picture of The Brewery Art Colony

Another example of an artist’s loft in Los Angeles is one at ‘Biscuit Company Lofts’ on Industrial Street. Available to purchase for just under $1.8 million, this artist loft measures 1,670 square feet and has one bedroom and 2 bathrooms. The interior is finished to a luxurious standard and makes the most of the light from the large windows that are typical of artist lofts. Amenities available to residents include controlled entry with a security guard, a swimming pool, outdoor entertaining space, a two-level gym and a concierge service.

Commercial Lofts in Chicago

Loft spaces are now common in Chicago, with both commercial and residential lofts available throughout the city. Due to rezoning and pioneering real estate developers such as Owen Deutsch and his firm, Loft Development Corporation, lofts began to proliferate throughout Chicago.

Mr. Deutsch was an award-winning fashion photographer in Chicago during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In the mid-60s, he brought the concept of lofts from New York City to Chicago when he embarked on a project to build out his first photography studio in Old Town. He purchased a historic four-story building located at 1759 N. Sedgwick, which was built in 1881, just 10 years after the historic Chicago fire. Mr. Deutsch purchased the property in 1968 and for the rehab project, he elected to employ a highly functional style that he had noticed artists and photographers utilizing in New York, the loft. Exemplified by high ceilings, exposed brick, gorgeous mezzanines and open spaces, this style was a perfect fit for the dramatic feel he wanted to achieve. After completing his studio, Mr. Deutsch recognized that the city afforded myriad opportunities for additional rehab projects, so he moonlighted as a real estate developer outside of his primary career as a photographer. In 1978, Mr. Deutsch founded Loft Development Corporation to manage his real estate ventures while he continued to focus on his photography business. Mr. Deutsch would go on to have a second career in real estate that would span half a century before selling his remaining commercial real estate assets in 2016 & 2017 to once again focus on photography, but this time with a focus on nature and birds.

Unused factories in commercially zoned areas became home to a variety of businesses, including galleries and office spaces. Today, the city offers a wide range of lofts for businesses and residents to enjoy. Lincoln Park, Fulton River District and Bucktown are among the neighborhoods that house some of the city’s most well-known lofts, while neighborhoods such as West Town and South Loop offer a variety of vintage and modern commercial lofts.

Chicago Neighborhoods with Commercial Lofts

South Loop offers a range of commercial and residential lofts. This neighborhood offers several vintage loft spaces that are suitable for commercial establishments, and South Loop has the advantage of being just minutes away from the main business district in the city. South Loop is also home to several of the city’s best attractions, including Museum Campus and the historic Motor Row District. River West is also a loft-heavy neighborhood in Chicago.

River West, a renovated warehouse district, is home to a variety of residential and commercial loft spaces. This trending neighborhood offers the benefit of combining residential spaces and commercial spaces in the same building, offering commercial businesses the opportunity to enjoy a loyal, local clientele among residents. River West also offers parking space, which is a big bonus in the city.

Printer’s Row offers the most concentrated number of lofts in the city. While many of the lofts are residential, commercial loft spaces are also available. The quiet neighborhood is just minutes away from the lakefront and several other attractions, including Grant Park, and the annual Printer’s Row Book Festival is held to honor the neighborhood’s history. Lofts in Printer’s Row have traditional brick combined with modern hardwoods for an open office space that is both comfortable and historic.

Notable Loft Spaces In Chicago

West Town is home to an iconic loft space in Chicago, The Universal Building. The Universal Building is a 150,000 -square -foot commercial space located just minutes away from the Loop, Chicago’s main business district, and the city’s major expressways, allowing for an easier commute to and from the city. The Universal Building offers a range of amenities, including easily accessible loading docks, secure on-site storage, and large, open office spaces for businesses.

West Town is a historic neighborhood that has been part of the city since 1837, when the city limits were originally established. West Town has evolved over time, but was once home to European immigrants. Today, the neighborhood is home to a diverse range of people, including younger people searching for new career opportunities within the neighborhood. The Universal Building is also located near several neighborhoods that are popular among young professionals, such as Wicker Park, offering business owners access to a talented workforce.

The historic Orleans Plaza, located in River North, is an eight story building that offers amenities such as covered parking, on-site storage and a 24-hour attendant. The building is a mix of timber, oversized windows and traditional masonry, and the office space is just minutes away from the train stations and expressway.

Like West Town, River North was included within Chicago’s original city limits. The neighborhood has evolved over time, and is now a center for artists and entrepreneurs. The neighborhood is particularly popular for restaurants and entertainment-related businesses.

Live/Work Lofts in Chicago

Chicago’s bustling reputation has been known to attract both the young and old, and folks from a wide range of professions. And to many who live in Chicago (old and new), lofts have become a highly coveted type of dwelling that fulfills both work and personal life into one space. What was once used and dismissed as storage, lofts have been refurbished to highlight a desired look: high ceilings, open floor plans, and industrial features such as exposed brick, steel, and wood.

Some of the popular live/work neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and Pullman Historic District have new loft developments that sprout from historic buildings and refurbishments. Lincoln Park Condos hold a vast array of refurbished lofts that occupy spaces above area businesses and old buildings. Pullman Artspace Lofts, which has just begun construction, is located in the Pullman Historic District and was once used by the Pullman Company as worker housing.

The Pullman Historic District was recognized by the American Planning Association in 2011 as one of the Top 10 Greatest Neighborhoods. The history of this little town dates back to its conception around late 1800’s by one George M. Pullman, whose idea was to make an ideal community for the workers of his car company, Pullman’s Palace Car Company. He wanted to make the best possible living environment to increase the quality of life for his workers, with the idea that a good quality of life would result in happier and more efficient workers. This, in his mind, would lead to less strikes, higher productivity, and a better quality product.

The Historic Pullman Foundation intends to continue with this same ideal: to provide a good quality living environment to the working class. Average size of any loft is typically around 1,250 sq. feet, but can greatly vary. Lofts can range from 700 sq. feet to around 2,500 sq. feet. Interior and exterior finishes also vary, but the vast majority of lofts in the Chicago area are refurbished buildings that used to serve as warehouses or old plants. New construction seems to adhere to those same principles of high ceilings, large windows, and exposed brick.

Resources to other live/work loft spaces in the Chicago area include: