Leave it to Greg Strangman to turn the open house on its head. For the unveiling of his latest architectural rehab in San Diego, East Village’s Community @ Carnegie Building, the award-winning developer staged the soirée of the year.
Strangman tapped arts promoter Sezio to curate a full-blown exhibition, Collide, featuring local talent like painter Mike Maxwell and wire artist Spencer Little, whose entire collection was snapped up by gallerist Alexander Salazar after the event. Throughout the evening, guests followed color-mapped strands of yarn—part of an installation, natch—to different rooms, where cutting-edge art and local craft beer awaited. DJ beats thumped throughout.
“It was a cool way to cross-pollinate all of San Diego’s different scenes,” says Sezio’s Zack Nielson, who spent two months planning the shindig, which drew nearly a thousand people. A local publisher, Manor House Quarterly, is even putting together an art book about it.
Strangman is no stranger to hosting see-and-be-seen parties. As the owner of the Pearl, the Point Loma motel he transformed from midcentury hovel to hot spot, he nailed the perfect social vibe: boutique but not snobbishly exclusive. He kept that in mind when his LWP Group (“live work play”) launched the Community @ brand, which now includes four urban properties in San Diego.
“I don’t want people to say my properties remind them of San Francisco or New York,” says Strangman. “I want them to say it reminds them of San Diego, because we’re doing it better here than anywhere.”
His strategy? Fix up old buildings in desperate need of TLC and make communal living the selling point, from shared garden plots to pingpong tourneys. Public art might just be the biggest draw. On the 60-unit Carnegie Building, which dates to 1912, Strangman commissioned a 16-by-20-foot stencil of Carnegie by Exist 1981. Meanwhile, at Community @’s first offering in Bankers Hill, tenants sign a lease just to live in the building with the “Obey” mural by Shepard Fairey.
“I’m selling a lifestyle,” says Strangman. “How they interpret that lifestyle is up to them.”