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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

619 Tenants Get Sudden Eviction Notice, and Notice That No More Art Walks Are Allowed

Posted by on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 7:52 PM

The artists renting at the longtime Art Walk hub 619 Western will have to leave six months before they thought they would, according to a DPD letter they received today—and there isn't even time for one last Art Walk.

Knowing they'd have to leave, many artists planned to do clearance sales the last few Art Walks, and this notice means they won't be able to do even that.

The landlord was willing to fix the building in order to upgrade it seismically, but DPD and WSDOT say it won't be possible on the timeline they're giving.

All this to build the tunnel.


Comments (32) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
They should organize and go on a rent strike. People have to learn to fight back.
Posted by Pol Pot on July 20, 2011 at 8:12 PM · Report this
I agree they should not pay their last couple months' rent. This is asinine.
Posted by LMcGuff on July 20, 2011 at 8:19 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
@1 & 2

But as I understand the post, the eviction notice is not from the landlord, it's from the Dept. of Planning and Development.
Posted by seatackled on July 20, 2011 at 8:23 PM · Report this
Weird to have the City drop this letter on them without any preamble or couching or whatnot. Usually with high profile stuff like this wouldn't the Council or Mayor have a word to say? Licata especially, since he stepped up on this earlier.
Posted by gloomy gus on July 20, 2011 at 8:56 PM · Report this
Baconcat 5
This is unacceptable.

Perhaps the goal is to sap downtown of culture and humanity and suffocate it? Make it easy to bypass downtown, obliterate Pioneer Square, screw up transit and remove the human element from future transportation plans for downtown.

What else can we do downtown if we are losing our culture like this in the name of a freeway?
Posted by Baconcat on July 20, 2011 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Zebes 6
Those artists can go get fucked. The only people that matter are the potential residents of glitzy, spendy condos built on previously viaducted turf.
Posted by Zebes on July 20, 2011 at 9:35 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
The arts will never be able to muster the economic power of off-ramps.
Posted by Fnarf on July 20, 2011 at 10:24 PM · Report this
Is Greg Nickels mayor again?
Posted by DOUG. on July 20, 2011 at 10:31 PM · Report this
Baconcat 9
Councilmember Licata yelled at tunnel opponents that they didn't have a leader, but in a case where he was supposed to be a leader he failed. This is a complete and utter disaster and a failure to lead. Upsetting a cultural asset like this is not a success and does nothing to show good faith to Pioneer Square.

This was Licata's issue in the tunnel fight. He assured people that the tunnel would be fine because he'd help mitigate effects of things like this.

That didn't work.

Perhaps it's time for a different kind of leadership, Nick? The 619 debacle is the first in a stream of broken promises surrounding this project, this I can guarantee. If we started this with 619, who's next in Pioneer Square? Are we going to level neighborhoods under the guise of urban improvement like Detroit in the 60s and 70s?

Threats of consequences and threats of opponents be damned, Nick. This tunnel is a bad idea and you know it. Be a leader of a different sort. While others were opponents from the get-go, you can lead people and tell them it's okay to reject a bad idea like this tunnel. You can lead people out of the darkness of tunnel vision.

Reject the status quo, Nick. Reject the tunnel.

Be a leader, Nick.
Posted by Baconcat on July 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM · Report this
The rich, white people can do WHATEVER they want with their property. What's the great shock?!
Posted by pattio666 on July 20, 2011 at 11:49 PM · Report this
It's not the owners of the building doing it, patio666, it's the city. It's the Department of Planning and Development.
Posted by hamilton on July 21, 2011 at 2:00 AM · Report this
We need to put our butts where our mouths are and go sit in until they find a better solution.
Posted by Dolphin Farts on July 21, 2011 at 3:46 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 13
Who needs the arts anyway? If it doesn't make the rich richer than it isn't needed or wanted.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on July 21, 2011 at 5:57 AM · Report this
We need a better solution! We need to stop being so apathetic and do something about this tunnel nonsense. They continue to stifle the resident's voices and ignore our wants and needs and we continue to take it.
Posted by funkathrusta on July 21, 2011 at 7:24 AM · Report this
Kinison 15
So the closing of the viaduct 2 years ago, which pushed out hundreds of Seahawk tailgaters from under the viaduct, that wasnt clue enough that they would have to leave?

The company I work for, entire building is in the path of the light rail going through Bellevue. Sure its going to suck if they move the HQ to Bothell, but we need light rail, thats the price of progress.
Posted by Kinison on July 21, 2011 at 8:25 AM · Report this
@15 This isn't about the viaduct. We were resigned to that. What this is about is the CIty truncating the relocation of these artists by 8 months. They now have 2 months. There was a time when we were hoping the city would help manage this transition so as not to lose so many artists and scatter them about the greater Seattle area. Now this destination spot has 10 days to stop functioning and 60 days to be completely empty. THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE VIADUCT.
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 8:35 AM · Report this
I am one of the artists in the building. We are a theatre company, and we do our rehearsing and training and building in this space. Yesterday, I went into the loft and found a letter, ostensibly from the City of Seattle, claiming that the building could not be used for "assembly purposes" after August first. I’ve got a comedy show that goes until August 6th. Am I going to be arrested?

We're a tough group of people. We will survive, but 10 days to shut down my entire business? To cancel all of the contracts I have with outside artists who were planning to work with us in that space? To then have 60 days to move out a bank of 40 theatre seats, an entire light grid with 45 instruments, a full sounds system, a custom sprung wood dance floor, and all of our props and costumes equipment?

Shame on you City of Seattle. Shame on you. Not even a word as a courtesy. Not even a word.

We're throwing a giant party with 3 bands and a DJ on Friday July 29th. It's going to be loud and awesome and messy and probably illegal (though we do have a permit). We'll have more information about the situation at the party:

But even if arts parties aren't your thing, I would recommend you get involved. I've got calls out to Nick Licata and his Chief of staff frank Video. If you know anyone else in the city who we should be in contact with, please do pass on their info to me at Alex(at)
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 8:52 AM · Report this
Kinison 18

Sure it is, its about this evil tunnel that nobody wants and how its forcing people to be evicted sooner than later. Blame the mayor and his supporters for focusing too much on trying to block the tunnel, rather than help people through the transition.
Posted by Kinison on July 21, 2011 at 8:52 AM · Report this
@18. Yes. Fair enough. I just want to make sure people understand that this isn't the same State agency forcing a tunnel down our throats. This is the city, including the Mayor, not just being negligent with helping us relocate but actually forcing us out sooner and under far less favorable circumstances.
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 9:16 AM · Report this
If you want to go all the way to the top of Seattle DPD (and given the severity of the situation along with the clear bureaucratic ignorance on display by the City), the Director is Diane Sugimura, and her contact information is within that link.
Posted by Gomez on July 21, 2011 at 9:59 AM · Report this
If you want to go all the way to the top of Seattle DPD (and given the severity of the situation along with the clear bureaucratic ignorance on display by the City, you might), the Director is Diane Sugimura, and her contact information is within that link.
Posted by Gomez on July 21, 2011 at 9:59 AM · Report this
Gomez. As usual. Thank you. See you in the loft for some training soon?
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM · Report this
I'll keep the proverbial eye and ear out for the opportunity, Alex. Thanks!
Posted by Gomez on July 21, 2011 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Alex, what are the chances of organizing the residents into a squat to force the city to at least honor the original time line? I think you could inspire a deeper conversation about where our city's priorities lie, in addition to getting the time your community needs to transition.
Posted by Pol Pot on July 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
It may very well come to that, especially if the city remains tight-lipped and forces us to keep getting our information from 3rd parties. As for our chances of organizing, I think they are pretty good. The building is full of all sorts of radicals and anarchists. That said, as a theatre group, we've always tried to do things as legally as possible while keeping an open line to the city. This is quite honestly the first time I've ever been blindsided by them. usually they are more than happy to work with us to at least help us understand the process. Unfortunately, this decision comes from Seattle DPD, which my friend John Logenbaugh calls the "Department of Departments." Apparently they exist for the sole purpose of making all the other city departments look nimble and efficient.
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Good luck to all the 619 residents. I'll try to make the party next Friday.
Posted by Pol Pot on July 21, 2011 at 12:46 PM · Report this
I've taken up enough real estate on this comments thread, but I just want to say that we are a fairly unique case as a theatre company in a primarily visual arts building. Pol Pot makes a good point. I don't want to monopolize the conversation just because our organization has more experience dealing with the city and zoning/permitting issues. There are a lot of other people in this building who have even fewer resources than we do. My guess is that the city didn't expect to run into an actual funded, supported, and networked arts community organization. We've received grants from the City, County and State. We're a Shunpike sponsored 501c3, so in some ways, we have legal protection and resources.

The most diabolical part is that I imagine they made the calculation that this building full of "artist types" would get pushed out without much of a fight. And THAT is hard to swallow. Pick on me all you want, but some of these guys have worked for over 20 years to turn this building into a city destination and cultural landmark. To see them treated like this just burns.

Ok. Rant over. I'll try not to take up too much more space. And thank you everyone for your help.
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 21, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Timrrr 28
It's horrible that 619 has to go away. I love that place. And we're quickly running out of low-rent spaces for arts of all types in this town. That said, however...

One part that keeps being overlooked in all this seems to be the WHY?

The fact is: Pre-tunnel construction is going much FASTER than anticipated -- SIX MONTHS faster, to be specific -- in part driven by incentives contractors would receive for an early completion. As a result, the dates for the entire project have been moved up substantially. Including, unfortunately, demolition of the existing south end of the viaduct which impacts the 619 building & others around it.

(And remember, stands this in stark opposition to the "all big projects have endless delays that result in cost overruns" straw/boogie-man arguments made by some -- even at this paper -- BTW!)
Posted by Timrrr on July 21, 2011 at 2:01 PM · Report this
I'm sorry to hear this. I hope they will come together and do their own independent community sale, for their work. I know I would come out to support it!

Posted by opheliaslove on July 21, 2011 at 3:35 PM · Report this
The only reason that that building is occupied by artists is because it can't make money any other way. It's not worth fixing up, or rather, it would probably be cheaper to tear it down and build a new one.
It's too bad, but that's the way it is. I've had a GREAT many fun times in that building for many years, but I guess the time has come.
There'll be a new place, just somewhere else.
Sad, but well, such is life.
Posted by kutis on July 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM · Report this
@30. Yes, the information you gave about the building being unsafe and full of artists only because it is rundown and not commercially viable. All of that has been true for twn years+. The problem we have is not with the decision, which was always inevitable, but with the speed with which it was made and executed. No substantial damage has occured in the last 10 years, yet just recently, DPD has order it evacuated. Last night at the tenants meeting, a DPD representative admitted "We blew it on this one. It slipped through the cracks." Speaking as an artist in this building I want to be very clear to those "c'est la vie" enthuasiats who think artists should be more rational, grow thicker skin and make peace with their lot in life; we are not questioning the decision. We are questioning the motive behind the timing, and we are questioning the draconian pace with which radical change is being implemented. Ten years after doing their first assessment, DPD knocks on the door and basically says, "Sorry you missed us for the last decade, but we are classifying your building as a hazard to public health and declaring an emergency evactuation. Such IS NOT life under any kind of normal conditions.
Posted by Alex@Satori on July 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Really its found horrible while to saw 619 tenants get sudden eviction notice and forced to leave before six months, these might be quite controversial.…
Posted by Wallace8649 on August 10, 2011 at 10:47 PM · Report this

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