Meet the Activist Who's Bringing the Co-Living Trend to Hollywood
The project is the brainchild of 30-year-old Prophet Walker, a formerly incarcerated community leader and investor who co-founded the Watts United Weekend for underprivileged kids.
Not all of Hollywood's residential development projects are targeting the well-heeled. Come December, the doors to Treehouse, L.A.'s first co-living facility — where residents inhabit private quarters but share common living spaces, such as a kitchen and living room — will open on Carlton Way just south of Hollywood Boulevard.
The project is the brainchild of Prophet Walker, a formerly incarcerated 30-year-old activist who co-founded the Watts United Weekend for underprivileged kids. Walker has also worked on a variety of real estate projects since graduating from Loyola Marymount five years ago. Walker's team includes Joe Green, Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate and Facebook adviser, housing advocate Brent Gaisford and a team of investors that includes TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie.
"At the minimum, our goal is to have a building in every neighborhood in the city," says Walker, "to have at least 3,000 units." The team envisions a network of Treehouses, first in L.A. and then across the country, with tenants given access to all locations. But it all starts in Hollywood with a five-story, 8,500-square-foot building that will have 60 bedrooms in 18 units and six studios. Community spaces include a cafe, dining hall, rooftop deck, free self-service laundry, gym and garden.
Pricing hasn't been set, but Walker predicts that year long leases will run ten to fifteen percent below average rents in the area. According to Rent Jungle, Hollywood's average rent is about $2,700.
Co-living, which has taken hold in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., comes to L.A. as the city faces the worst housing crisis in its history. Mayor Eric Garcetti is a Treehouse supporter, and Walker expects to attract employees at nearby Netflix and Viacom. The challenge: "How do we build something that isn't so bland that it doesn't speak to anyone — but not so specific that it puts people off?" says Walker. "There are these communities — the Burning Man community, the sneakerhead community and a Hollywood assistant community — and they all speak different languages and understand things differently, but there is also a lot of crossover."
This story first appeared in the May 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.