Capitol Hill Community Post | Seattle JazzED and Capitol Hill Housing to develop a youth performing arts hub and affordable housing in Rainier Valley

(Image: Jim Leavitt/JazzED)

From Capitol Hill Housing

Seattle JazzED, the music education non-profit co-founded in 2010 by Laurie de Koch, Shirish Mulherkar and Garfield High School Band Director Clarence Acox, announced today a joint purchase of land with Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) in the Rainier Valley neighborhood, 2101 22nd Ave S. Seattle JazzED will build a youth performing arts center and music school on the ground floor, and Capitol Hill Housing will develop affordable apartments on the upper five floors.

Amid Seattle’s rapid growth and soaring prices, this partnership will create equitable access to youth empowerment and affordable housing. Furthermore, two like-minded Central District independent schools—Lake Washington Girls Middle School and Giddens School—will co-locate next door. Together, this network will offer more educational opportunities for youth and families of the Rainier Valley and beyond.

In a city that is nationally known and celebrated for its strong middle and high school jazz education programs, only a fraction of students in Seattle can access these programs. Seattle JazzED was established as an all-city solution to that problem. Instruction in jazz, a Black American art form, teaches more than just music—it instills teamwork, accountability, confidence and empowerment. In response, Seattle JazzED has grown exponentially from serving 56 young musicians its first year to more than 900 annually, with 42 percent of students receiving full or partial financial aid to participate. Thousands more could be served.

All Seattle JazzED programming currently happens in three small classrooms in Madison Valley’s MLK F.A.M.E. Community Center, but classes are currently spilling out of their spaces. The development of a new permanent home in Rainier Valley will increase educational and performance space to 12,000 square feet, enabling programs to expand to 2,000 more youth each year—a 200% increase.

The new building will allow original programming like a full choral program, drumline, and other arts instructions. Space will exist to enable wraparound services, like after-school tutoring and summer camps, which are essential for under-resourced families. There will be room to store and repair the vast collection of donated instruments, which will allow Seattle JazzED to provide a high-quality instrument to every student who needs one. Seattle JazzED will have its own acoustically precise performance hall to showcase students’ creativity.

Most relevant to access, the Seattle JazzED/CHH site—formerly the site of Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley—is in the heart of an established transit corridor, near two light rail stops, bus lines, and major freeways. As more and more families are priced out of Seattle, this central location will broaden access for students. Currently, Seattle JazzED draws students from over 100+ schools every year from as far north as Duvall, as far south as Olympia, and from all over the east side.

CHH will jointly develop this property with Seattle JazzED, building five stories of affordable housing above the ground-level JazzED facility, which will be affordable to individuals and families earning at or below 60% of the area median income. Each organization will fund its own portion, then own and manage its own section of the building. JazzED is launching a $10 million capital campaign, based on preliminary budgeting, to create their new home. The public-private Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund, which is administered by Enterprise Community Partners to support development of affordable housing near transit in the Puget Sound region, provided a $2.3 million loan for site acquisition. CHH plans on securing additional public funding sources in the future.

“Access to affordable housing, education, transit, and arts create the foundation for healthy, productive lives and economic opportunity. Enterprise is thrilled to use the REDI Loan Fund to support this development to create nearly 100 new affordable homes by Capitol Hill Housing combined with a performing arts center and music school by JazzED,” said James Madden, Senior Program Director for Enterprise Community Partners.

“JazzED is growing exponentially every year, and we’ve had to be creative with our space—down to kids practicing in storage closets! But we have outgrown our space, and can’t serve all the families who want to participate. That’s why joining with CHH to create this new building comes at such a perfect time,” said Laurie de Koch, Seattle JazzED co-founder and Executive Director. “I love the idea of really being able to plant ourselves in the city in a way that will ensure that we’re here for decades to come.”

“When JazzED first approached us with the idea for this project, we recognized the opportunity to do something truly unique. In the midst of a housing crisis, this partnership will bring not just expanded access to high-quality music education, but also much-needed affordable homes,” said Christopher Persons, CEO of CHH.

“I imagine a lot of creativity in the new building and a lot of beautiful music being made. I think any place where people can share ideas and have respect for each other’s point of view and culture is a good place,” said Clarence Acox, Seattle JazzED co-founder and Garfield High School band director. “There’s such a divide now, we need that now more than ever. This building is a good place to start.”

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