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If you lived here, you'd be home by now
Alana Franklin freaked out her friends when she told them she wanted to move downtown, into a 630-square-foot apartment with zero closet space, across the street, quite literally, from the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Truth be told, she had some worries herself.
Then she moved in.
“As soon as I got in here...”
She stops herself midsentence and does a slow turn around her loft apartment, with its granite-countered kitchen, gigantic white walls and oversized windows — there are windows for days.
That's the thing about the H St. Lofts, the just-completed complex from wünderkind developer Reza Assemi and Fresno architects Pail Halajian and Jamie Dronyk: You either get it, or you don't.
Franklin, a 24-year old dispatcher with the Fresno County Sherrif's department, is one of the first residents to move into the lofts. She doesn't have much furniture yet — just a futon, a TV and a wardrobe she bought to store her clothes. She doesn't have many neighbors yet either. But more residents are moving in this weekend and by the end of the month more than half of the 26-units will be spoken for, says Brenda Carrasco, who manages H St. and the neighboring Vagabond Lofts.
The lofts are the fourth in a series of developments from Assemi all within several blocks of what downtown folks have dubbed the cultural arts district. They include the Vagabond Lofts, Broadway Studios and Pearl Building. And work is under way on another project that will add 80 more residences at Divisadero and Fulton streets.
The projects are linked by a shared sense of purpose and community, Carrosco says. There is an excitement about the lofts you can see when people first see the space. Several residents are moving in from the Bay Area, from Los Angeles and New York. Several, like Franklin, work downtown — at Community Hospital or with the Fresno Grizzlies. Most are young professionals. Most are creatives.
They all get it, Carrasco says, though their parents probably don't.
These are not typical apartments. On the outside the buildings are big on metal and concrete, with red corrugated siding and bus-yellow front doors. Inside, the space is design heavy, with kitchens and bathroom tucked away from first views and a natural light flow that is a mixture of pendant lights, skylighting and windows. As a photographer, Franklin was drawn to the lighting. She can't wait to have friends over to start taking pictures.
The whole complex was designed with integrated art features. It's a canvas of sorts, with several murals, an iron sculpture and individual art display boxes that face the street.
A week after moving in, there's just a stuffed Paddington Bear in Franklin's box. Her spot is a bit of a blank slate still. But it's perfect for what she was looking for — a place in which she could branch out on her own, without roommates.
Even with the train, which is framed by the upstairs window — a low rectangle designed just for that purpose. It's become a favorite spot. “The train goes by and I'm right there watching it,” she says.