Checking Out The Castro Writers Coop

Checking Out The Castro Writers Coop
Photo: Roy McKenzie/Hoodline
By Roy - Published on November 22, 2014.
Nestled in a cottage behind a storefront on the 500 block of Castro Street is a surprisingly quiet and private co-working space for San Francisco writers of all types to focus on creating their literary masterpieces.

It's called The Castro Writers' Cooperative, or "The Coop" for short, and was born from the ashes of the Sanchez Annex Writers Grotto on Sanchez near 17th after the space was turned back into housing.

Writers from the Sanchez Annex, Scott James and Shana Mahaffey, are proprietors of the Castro's newest literary-focused fort. James and Mahaffey are affable, long-time San Franciscans with a passion for the city and a passion for writing. We chatted for several minutes on a range of topics related to San Francisco including the city's addled public school system, local politics, and having Armistead Maupin back in the 'hood. 

James and Mahaffey are both published writers. Mahaffey wrote "Sounds Like Crazy," a novel about a cartoon voice actor with five voices in her head, and regularly contributes to literary journals and magazines. James is an Emmy award-winning news writer, producer, and executive and has written two books in addition to a weekly column he writes about San Francisco for the New York Times. 

James and Mahaffey wanted to continue the tradition of offering a quiet, cooperative space for writers to gather, focus, and share inspiration. After moving out of the Sanchez Street location, the writers occupied the old Tower Records location on Market Street before it became a CVS. They moved into the Castro Street location in October.

Writers at The Coop are varied and diverse and include playwrights, local and national journalists, young adult fiction writers, and travel guide reporters, to name a few. Hanging on the wall on either side of the entry are framed covers from Sanchez Annex alumni literature. 

The Coop features 5 different writing and relaxation rooms with 14 workstations, each with a desk, a comfy lumbar-supporting chair, plenty of electrical outlets, and a desk lamp. The cottage is appointed with wifi, soft lighting, a kitchenette, and even a shower attached to the bathroom for writers on the go. 

Each room follows a different theme. The entryway, called "The Library," features two deep, cyan-colored chairs with a bookshelf scene papered on the wall.  The "Forest" room contains several desks and birch trees painted on the walls. The "School House" features a large, old, wooden teacher's school desk with a hanging chalkboard-style frame. Another room, the "Gertrude Stein Salon," contains walls filled with framed art with several workstations.

The Coop is a charming workspace welcoming writers of all types with friendly proprietors and nicely appointed digs. The Coop still has space available for full-time or shared desk space. It's located at 549A Castro - check out the website for more.