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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tonight: Save Oddfellows Hall

posted by on January 16 at 12:09 PM


Remember back when Ted Schroth bought Oddfellows Hall (read about it here)?

Remember when everybody was freaking out and some people (like me) said: We don’t know what’s going to happen, so let’s not freak out yet?

Looks like it might be time to freak out.

Rumor says Schroth is raising the rents and demanding minimum five-year leases, meaning Freehold is out, Velocity is probably out, and the Century Ballroom is trying to negotiate a deal to stay for a couple of years, but will eventually probably be out.

Matthew Kwatinetz, of the Capitol Hill Arts Center has organized a meeting tonight to discuss the future of Oddfellows Hall. (Technically, it’s a Chamber of Commerce/CHAC/Creative Conversations meeting about real estate and the arts, but all anyone will want to talk about is Oddfellows Hall.)

Likely to attend: Jim Kelly and Charlie Rathbun (4 Culture), Susan Shannon (Mayor’s Office of Economic Development), Michael Killoren (Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs), Nick Licata (city council), and a pack of bunged-up artists.

Likely topics of discussion: Arts spaces, government subsidies for arts spaces, non-profits that are rumored to want to buy Oddfellows back from Schroth, people’s memories of and affections for Oddfellows Hall, and the Save the Oddfellows group, whose website is here.

5:30. CHAC. Be there.

RSS icon Comments


if dennys in ballard stays and this one goes im gonna go fucking crazy.

Posted by Cale | January 16, 2008 12:26 PM

I think it good practice to freak out any time a developer buys a place.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 12:29 PM

STRANGER STAFF: Gentrification of Cap Hill is moving ever so closer to your offices. Now it's tenticles are only a BLOCK AWAY!!!!

HA HA HA HA !!!! (evil Dr. Evil laugh1)

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 16, 2008 12:31 PM

The Mayor would love to giveaway big $ to the Sonics.

But for arts and dance venues that thousands of people use every week -- drawing in beaucoup $$ from outside of Seattle even -- creating economic benefits to the whole neighborhood --its MAYOR TO CAPITOL HILL: DROP DEAD.

Posted by unPC | January 16, 2008 12:38 PM

You should have seen it coming. The Starbucks gradient is precariously sharp in that area due to a lack of Starbucks, and when that happens eventually a Starbucks comes screaming in at a high velocity and smashes up everything in sight. The empirical evidence of this is incontrovertible. When the dust clears - there they are a couple of new Starbucks. You can claim it's a coincidenc. I claim it's physics.

Posted by kinaidos | January 16, 2008 12:46 PM

This is the first I've heard about the Save Oddfellows group. The site doesn't list exactly who is behind it - do you guys have info?

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 12:48 PM

Never thought you'd be nostalgic for the days when the neo-nazis ran it, didya?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 12:53 PM

Between Freehold and Velocity about 30 people in the performing arts will be loosing thier jobs (staff plus teachers). This sucks!

Posted by Artslover | January 16, 2008 12:55 PM

Ann Donovan, former head of the currently on-hiatus Capitol Hill Community Council (yeah, we're working on un-hiatusing CHCC, too, in addition to seeing about reviving the long-defunct Capitol Hill Arts Council) has been spear-heading this campaign.

If you're interested in getting more info, or joining the Save The Odd Fellows email group list, you can contact her at:

Posted by COMTE | January 16, 2008 12:56 PM

@ 6:

As far as I know, Ann Donovan, of the Capitol Hill Community Council, is running the Save Oddfellows show.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | January 16, 2008 12:57 PM

private property, so nothing to do about it.

this is what capitalism looks like.

Posted by max solomon | January 16, 2008 12:57 PM

Sooooo....are they going to tear the building down, do we think? Because that would be beyond suck. I would think this place would have landmark status.

Posted by violet black | January 16, 2008 1:00 PM

Thanks 9 & 10

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 1:03 PM

I don't see them tearing the building down. Cant they tear it down? I figured
they would convert it to condos, but who knows.

Posted by Rotten666 | January 16, 2008 1:07 PM

If it's privately owned and they don't wanna sell, what are you gonna do?

Posted by Gitai | January 16, 2008 1:07 PM

This is what happens when alternative weeklies write articles that are overly biased and naive, and don't consider the consequences. Thanks in part to the Stranger we have no massive public park in South Lake Union and the Oddfellows Hall will soon be gone....

remember this? -

Posted by Frank | January 16, 2008 1:10 PM

Explain yourself, Frank.

Posted by huh? | January 16, 2008 1:20 PM

@17, I will explain Frank: If ANY group that is bad has EVER been in a building then the building is forever evil. Kinda like how Berlin should be vaporized since Hitler ruled from there.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 16, 2008 1:28 PM

Frank, that's the article that (in part) got the OddFellows to sell the hall, which led to it being the artist haven it's been for the last decade. Get a clue.

My understanding is that the new owners never intended to tear it down, but to convert it to higher end office space with "boutiques" that reflect the new moneyed inhabitants of Cap Hill at street level. Yay for not tearing down a beautiful historic building but their vision for it is still crappy.

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 1:31 PM

Given the lack of political power the Capitol Hill neighborhood has, since you've let the nearby wealthy neighborhoods roll over you, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you'll probably lose this fight, since nobody at City Hall or County or the State will actually fight for you.

Sorry, but I thought I'd say it now so you wouldn't be so surprised when it happens.

Is it fair? No.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 16, 2008 1:33 PM

The place was an artists haven before the Stranger wrote about how 'evil' those bad oddfellows were. Freehold was there. Gay Bingo was there. And all ages punk shows and raves were there. The article lead to the oddfellows, who built the building and had run it since, losing it which lead to where we are today. If the oddfellows still owned it it wouldn't be being developed.

Posted by Frank | January 16, 2008 1:48 PM
January 16, 2008
Angel Properties Inc. and Inori LLC sold the historic Odd Fellows Lodge in downtown Seattle to Oddfellows LLC for $8.5 million, or a little more than $154 per square foot.

Formerly known as the Odd Fellows Temple, the property is now used as an office with street-level retail. It was built in 1908 at 915 E. Pine St. and has 55,130 square feet of rentable area.

GTS Development, a member of Oddfellows LLC, plans to upgrade the building with renovations to the entries and interior common areas, and enhancements to the exterior fašade and storefront area. Plans also include reconfiguring the top office floor into larger office spaces.

Brian Bergman of Westlake Associates Inc. represented the buyer, while the seller was self-represented. The property sold at a 4.7% cap rate.

Posted by suren~o | January 16, 2008 1:49 PM

I was going to go to this but now I"m afraid it's going to turn into an overcrowded shouting match. Hopefully it will be productive.

Posted by diana | January 16, 2008 2:07 PM

Can't we just get this over with and bulldoze anything in this city that's over 20 years old ASAP, so we can no longer be distracted by history, culture, aesthetic value, variety, etc.?

Don't we all have beans to count, people? Thankfully there's no frontier any longer, no "next city" to move to, so this aggressive destruction for quick profit will lead to some sort of confrontation.

Posted by pjp | January 16, 2008 2:07 PM

If you care about culture I hope you will come tonight. This means nightlife, entertainment, theatre, arts, boutique, small business, bars, etc.

Two years ago, we started the Chamber to try to bring an empowered voice to the Hill. After a great deal of work, this is happening. We are having a voice in City Hall, but only when the community comes out to express what it wants: this means YOU coming out and saying that you care about culture staying on the Hill.

@ 8: it is going to be a far larger figure than that. There are upwards of a dozen arts orgs based out of there and no place else for them to go for these under-market rents.

@ 11, 15: Well, some Cities actively get involved in urban planning directly related to the arts and culture. They do things like incorporate Public Development Authorities (PDAs), provide incentives to maintain arts spaces (zoning, usually), or actually acquire key buildings to preserve them for cultural use. Occasionally, they will work in a reactive fashion to re-acquire spaces such as this, but that does require either a willing seller, the power of eminent domain (unlikely here), or a community group (such as Save Oddfellows Hall) to block forward permit progress (in this region the most infamous example was Northgate Mall and the creek daylighting--19 years of blockage until the community got what it wanted).

@ 14: tearing down the building is unlikely. It can be landmarked, and though that does not technically stop a tear-down, it is a strong discouragement.

@ 20 : City Hall is now listening, but they are rightly asking: who is going to show up and let us know that they care and that they vote?

@ 22: As far as I have been told, plans for Oddfellows are to turn it into a nationally backed furniture store.

Posted by matthew | January 16, 2008 2:31 PM

This panel will be a great opportunity for folks interested in the role of culture in community/urban planning to move out of a reactive position and talk together about the only truly productive topic at this point: capacity-building. Basically: who is "we", what *exactly* do we want, and how we would build or design the capacity to execute it - "it" being preserving and or developing beloved cultural spaces on Capitol Hill.

Posted by Paige | January 16, 2008 3:15 PM

if that's what "we" wants ;)

Posted by Paige | January 16, 2008 3:26 PM

Anyone else think this is very late notice for an important meeting like this?

Posted by call me a snot | January 16, 2008 3:28 PM

If "we" want to preserve beloved cultural spaces on Capitol Hill, don't sell them to developers...

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 16, 2008 3:29 PM

We spend hundreds of millions on a new city hall, a new municipal justice center, the opera house, the symphony, subsidies to Seattle Center, and the sports stadiums.
It would not take much money to give grants to the arts and dance groups at Oddfellows Hall so that they can stay.
When we spend hundreds of millions for the huge sports and arts institutions, we should spend a bit on arts and dance institutions at the neighborhood level, too.
I hope Nick Licata gets the head of the Neighborhoods and Ec. Dev. Committee into this asap.

"Yo quiero que bailen to'os....."

Posted by Cleve | January 16, 2008 3:55 PM


The notice has been out there for at least two weeks now, but even so, it takes time for some things to filter out to the larger community.

This is one of the reason why having a neighborhood community/arts council would be helpful - putting out a message is only good if people know where to find it.

Posted by COMTE | January 16, 2008 4:30 PM

Call me a snot wrote:

Anyone else think this is very late notice for an important meeting like this?

It was posted to the capitolhillnews mailing list on January 5.

Posted by Phil M | January 16, 2008 4:58 PM

...and cross-posted to the Neighborhood Arts Council, Capitol Hill Arts, 15th Avenue Community, and Seattle Action lists.

Posted by Phil M | January 16, 2008 5:00 PM

@28 - It was also listed on Seattlest at least a week ago. I agree though - if I only heard of it today I'd be scrambling to try to get there.

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 5:16 PM

It's not my intent to argue in favor of the new owners, but missing from this discussion (and many similar ones) is some consideration of the building itself. What's unfortunate about the state of things is that arts groups, artists and non-profits thrive on cheap rent. More often than not, cheap rent is synonymous with an aging building where maintenance has been neglected. This means that if low-rent tenants stay in a building indefinitely, eventually the building will fail and no longer be habitable. For preservationists and fans of old buildings, that's not an acceptable outcome. In order to preserve and maintain old buildings, especially architecturally significant, i.e. landmark, ones like Oddfellows Hall, a significant amount of money is needed to restore them and extend their useful life for another generation. The catch-22 is that this infusion of money, this needed investment in the preservation of our city's buildings, comes at the expense of low-rent tenants. Maintenance and restoration costs need to be offset by higher rents, and that results in the displacement of culturally valuable people and organizations. So, in order to save the building we kill the culture. The alternative appears to be: save the culture and kill the building, because it will eventually end up as a run-down vacant slum, and the culture will be forced to move anyways.

Please discuss.

Another example relevant to this discussion is the building at 3rd and Jackson, with the leather store on the corner. A vibrant arts community thrived upstairs, but at the expense of the building itself.

Posted by grumpypants | January 16, 2008 7:10 PM

Thank you 35.
We can't wait until the 11th hour. Developers are not evil, they are organized.They buy and sell, not for fun, but for money.
Artists (yes I'm an artist) need to put together our resources to buy buildings, or establish relationships with building owners.

If you owned a building and artists offered you 3 Million, and a developer offered you 10 Million, who would you sell to?

Posted by Honest Engine | January 19, 2008 2:07 PM

I been a member of the OddFellows hear in st.louis, mo for 24 years, and i'm only 40yrs old....i enjoy the oddfellows alot....i even travel and take picturss of old oddfellows building all over the United States, i pray they don't tear down another OddFellow building...and pray i get a chance to see the one in seattle, if or before it is destroy.......pray it stands...


Posted by stephen | January 25, 2008 7:46 PM

Ted has a history of restoring and reinventing historic buildings. Could of been sold to a worse developer. Everything has a price, we are just lucky it isn't going to be torn down.

Posted by Fred | January 26, 2008 6:22 AM

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