The 12th Avenue Arts project will transform a Seattle Police Department parking lot into one of Capitol Hill's newest multi-use buildings. In addition to retail and apartments, the building will include two theaters and office space for three small theater companies.
New Century Theatre Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop and Washington Ensemble Theatre will jointly manage the two new performance spaces. They join a growing list of arts organizations who make their home in Seattle's Pike-Pine corridor. Directly across the street from the new building is Velocity, a contemporary dance center. Northwest Film Forum is a block south next to the police precinct headquarters. Richard Hugo House, a literary center, is around the corner.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata says 12th Avenue Arts is exactly the type of project he had in mind in 2008, when he formed a committee to help preserve arts and cultural spaces in the neighborhood. At the time, in response to mounting pressure from artists who were being priced out of the area, Licata formed the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee (CODAC). The committee came up with a list of recommendations to preserve or create space for artists. Although the list was approved by the Seattle City Council in 2009, the city took no immediate action.
But this spring Seattle will dip its toe back into cultural development. Councilmember Licata says the city's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs will hire someone to assist developers working with artists and arts groups to either preserve or create new housing and work space. Licata says that's the best way to ensure that places like the Pike-Pine corridor live up to their national reputation.
In early January 2013, a national organization designated the neighborhood as one of America's top 12 arts-friendly neighborhoods. That designation was based on factors including the number of businesses and arts organizations in the area, as well as walkability and population density. Councilmember Licata says groundbreaking for 12th Avenue Arts is more evidence of the community's cultural-friendly attitude. He says it's time now for Seattle to revive the full CODAC recommendations, and designate the Pike-Pine corridor as the City's first official arts district.