Next arts and culture space to lose its lease: Capitol Hill’s Eclectic Theater

(Image: Alex Garland)

Where do small theatre companies take the stage when their affordable performance spaces can no longer afford the rent? While many actors having long been priced out of the neighborhood, the Capitol Hill theatre community is losing another piece of its charm: affordable rents.

Rik Deskin, the founder of Eclectic Theater, has announced the end of the venue’s 11-year run on 10th Ave at the end of the month.

“We knew that we had a five year lease, and we knew the end was coming. We started exploring the possibility of renewing the lease,” Deskin said. “At the same time, we were having difficulties paying the current rent so we decided to not renew the lease. We heard from some other people who looked into it that he’s expecting $3,500 a month for the space, which is ridiculous in my opinion. With no upgrades, not that I’m aware of.”

“Capitol Hill is the densest area of arts and culture businesses and organizations in the state,” says Tonya Lockyer, executive director at the neighborhood’s globally respected Velocity Dance. “Imagine if you have this incredible natural resource — creative businesses, organizations, and people. When that is threatened, you want to preserve it.” Continue reading

V2’s promising start as Value Village art space could be a blueprint for other empty buildings

Resident Kate Wallich holds a rehearsal for Industrial Ballet inside V2. (Image: Kate Wallich via Instagram)

Resident Kate Wallich holds a rehearsal for Industrial Ballet inside V2. (Image: Kate Wallich via Instagram)

It’s only been a month since Velocity Dance Center officially opened the V2 “temporary arts space” in the old Value Village building on 11th Ave, and the new residents have already churned out an impressive display of creativity.

“It’s exciting what’s already happened,” said Tonya Lockyer, Velocity’s artistic director and former executive director. “And only more is in store.”

Since Value Village departed from the auto row-era Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building on 11th and E Pine last year, Legacy Commercial’s plans for a mixed-use development on the site have been significantly slowed due to a landmark protections decision. While the project gets sorted out, the 12th Ave dance studio signed a six-month, below market-rate lease with Legacy in February and opened V2 in early March.

V1 of the V2 space when it was still Macklemore's thrift shop. (Image: CHS)

V1 of the V2 space when it was still Macklemore’s thrift shop. (Image: CHS)

Initiated by the Capitol Hill Arts District, and propped up by a $20,000 grant from the city’s Office of Arts and Culture, the 30,000-square-foot space is being put to use for dance performance, offices, rental studios, and storage. It is also home to the event company One Reel, which will be staging its Bumbershoot operations out of V2 this year.

Lockyer says it’s been a “fast turn around” to get V2 up and running and there is still a lot of work to be done, including painting the walls and getting city permits for public events. Even so, Velocity has already hosted visual artists, dancers, and choreographers through their in-house residency program, which allows residents to work out of V2 for free or at highly subsidized rents.

Residents have included local dance choreographer Kate Wallich, who recently sold-out Seattle’s Moore Theatre with her one-time show Industrial Ballet — Velocity’s largest production to date. Dance choreographer Alice Gostia worked in the space as she gears up for of a large production at the Seattle waterfront this summer and Seattle-based drag queen and dancer Cherdonna Shinatra collaborated with local street artist 179 to do a mural in V2. Continue reading

With development still in works, V2 buys a year for arts and an old Capitol Hill building

(Images: CHS)

While V2 isn’t planned to officially open until April, it still makes a great place for rehearsals (Images: CHS)

For Legacy Commercial, the decision to let Velocity dance center put the empty Value Village building back into motion as community arts space V2 was easy. Legacy didn’t want an empty building, and the long time Capitol Hill landowner did want to do something good for the neighborhood, Legacy’s Jeff Calvert tells CHS.

Leasing the space, even at a reduced rent, gives Legacy what the business majors like to call a “win-win.” Arts groups get some much needed space, and the property owners (and community at large) don’t have to deal with the problems that can come from a vacant building. Legacy has owned property in the area since the mid-90s, and Calvert said the company saw an opportunity to be a good neighbor.

“We wanted to support a neighborhood resource,” he said.

So Legacy connected with the city-backed Capitol Hill Arts District and arranged to allow the group to use the space on a temporary basis at a reduced rent. In this case, temporary likely means sometime through early or mid-2017, Calvert said, when Legacy hope to go ahead with a long-planned, reduced-in-scope development.

The deal came about when the arts district was looking for a space to host an affordability conference, said Tonya Lockyer, co-chair of the arts district and artistic director for Velocity. Someone suggested the Value Village building, which has been empty since November, and the deal for the pop-up arts center came together over about a month and a half, she said.

“With all the artists being displaced right now, we didn’t want it to be empty,” Lockyer said. Continue reading

V2: Value Village to become temporary Capitol Hill arts space

From L to R: Michael Seiwerath, Matthew Richter, Jill Leininger, and Tonya Lockyer in V2; (Image: Dylan Ward)

From L to R: Michael Seiwerath, Matthew Richter, Jill Leininger, and Tonya Lockyer in V2; (Image: Dylan Ward)

Capitol Hill Housing announced Tuesday that 11th Ave’s Value Village building will be put back into motion as V2, a “temporary arts space” managed by Velocity Dance and home to One Reel. Meanwhile, Hugo House, originally included in the announcement has said it will not play a major role in the project.

The 30,000-square-foot space will be divided into performance areas, rental studios, classrooms, offices, and storage.

The Capitol Hill Arts District project will serve as “a gathering place for rehearsals, events, artist residencies, community forums and the monthly Second Thursday Art Walk.”

Property owner Legacy Commercial “is generously offering the space extremely below market rent for a short term, until the building is redeveloped,” according to the announcement. The City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture has put up $20,000 to back the project.

V2 is planned to open in early March. While being planned for a short-term lease, V2 organizers are making plans for utilizing the space beyond fall of this year.

Value Village left the building in November following one final Halloween on Capitol Hill. Continue reading