Arts Thou Shalt Not Freak Out (Yet)
posted by October 17 at 8:37 AMon
Or is about to be sold. Or something.
Neither the current nor the future owners have returned our calls, but rumor says it’s pretty much a done deal (pending one small legal matter, allegedly about property lines, that should be resolved within days if it isn’t already).
Those rumors have been breathless and panicked, as members of the aforementioned arts organizations and nonprofits have wondered if their beautiful old brick building will be torn down to build a stack of ugly—if lucrative—condo units.
The panic is premature. According to current tenants like Kara O’Toole, executive director of Velocity, the current owners have said repeatedly that they don’t want to sell to anyone who will annihilate its spirit and current community function.
Another good omen—the purported buyer is one Mr. Ted Schroth, developer of the Trace Lofts, admired for its smart blend of preservation and renovation.
And one of Schroth’s development collaborators, Liz Dunn, was described in our Political Genius Shortlist this year as “our kind of developer… rather than gutting existing urban shops and stores and shoehorning in awkward condo developments, Dunn’s kind of development… fits in and brings more life to the street.”
Of course, Schroth can buy the building and do whatever he wants, but if his record is any indication, he’ll do some tasteful renovation, overhaul the retail on the first floor, add some residential floors up top, and let well-loved community organizations (Century Ballroom, Velocity) stay.
Isn’t that what a smart developer would do?
(In other not-terrible news for arts spaces in Seattle: Jim Kelly of 4Culture says the county has made an offer on the Washington Hall at 14th and Fir—former home of On the Boards, current home of the Sons of Haiti, an African-American Masonic lodge. Kelly says the SoH hasn’t answered yet, but he’s confident they can make a deal “Either we’re going to save some of these buildings to help preserve some of the independent arts in Seattle,” he says, “or we’re going to have to face the consequences.”)