Tin Miner’s Alley,  A Mixed-Use Emergence

Destination Nevada County
Article by Mystery Wallis

One might be wondering what’s happening with The Pioneer Village which was purchased in 2018 by Wallis Design Studio, with the hopes of renovating it into a forever home for the Design Studio. According to Robert Wallis, founder of Wallis Design Studio, “We saw lots of potential with Pioneer Village, now named Tin Miner’s Alley, due to its prominent location, high visibility, and great pedestrian access. Tin Miner’s Alley fulfills our desire to have a downtown location that serves the needs of our business as well as providing much-needed housing for our community.”
In the fall of 2020 construction was set to start and it looked like their vision would get closer to being a reality, but then the pandemic struck. According to Wallis, multiple factors have contributed to the slow start, but primarily, the construction budget was much higher than expected. In the fall of 2020, Wallis began making revisions to the plans to try to increase rental revenue while decreasing construction costs as much as possible. Originally set to be 5 apartments, Tin Miner’s Alley was redesigned to include a total of 7 apartments, 3 2-bedroom, and 4 1-bedroom units. Each apartment was reconfigured to be as efficient as possible while maintaining the desired design aspects of natural light, open living space, and a high standard of finish.
Wallis rebid the project and found that there was a lot of uncertainty in the construction market because of COVID-19 impacts. These have included labor shortage, unavailability of products, and an escalation in the cost of both. Now, over a year later, Tin Miner’s Village is anticipated to break ground on February 1, 2022, with construction estimated to take 9 months.
In addition to apartments, the Tin Miner’s Village will include 2 large commercial spaces that share common restrooms and a breakroom. These spaces are joined by a gallery in which Wallis hopes to invite local artists to display their artwork.
When asked about the main aspects of the design, Wallis told a story of flexibility and adaptability, “We have seen the office environment changing with COVID-19 and I wanted to create an environment that can adapt to these changes.” Wallis says he did this with an open office concept that would provide a variety of flexible work areas as well as office amenities that can support those who spend different amounts of time in and out of the office. “Our new office will become a destination for our clients and a collaboration hub with quality resources for our employees and team members alike,” he said.
On the topic of the apartments, Wallis spoke of accessibility and refined elegance. The apartment on the first floor is fully accessible and 4 of the apartments on the second floor are fully adaptable for different needs with a lift to move between the floors. “While we stayed with a contemporary feel, we designed the apartments to be accessible for everyone, something that historical buildings downtown often are not.” The upper floor also uses shed dormers to bring in natural light and increase the volume of the living space. To make the apartments feel refined, Wallis says they used stone countertops, tiled restrooms, luxury vinyl floors, and wood cabinetry. Wallis states there will also be more modern amenities, like a solar power system and car charging stations for residents. Along with this, Wallis says they would like to keep the landscaping architecture consistent with the work the City of Grass Valley has been doing across the street in the Safeway and City parking lot and will incorporate similar drought-resistant plants.
Wallis says they are all very excited about the project and cannot wait to see it finished.  Throughout the process, Wallis has worked closely with the City of Grass Valley and the Sierra Foothill Construction Team and hopes as part of the entryway into the city, Tin Miner’s Alley makes the Grass Valley and the Nevada County community proud.