2015 could be the start of a new era for the Summit Block Party. In his second year as lead organizer, Adam Way is taking a more professional approach to the fourth annual day of free music, food, and beer happening this Saturday.
Special events permits have been acquired, t-shirts and other merchandise produced, and liability insurance purchased. Way even got the city to close street parking on the Summit Ave block between Howell and Olive for the party and secured a $1,000 Department of Neighborhoods grant to help offset costs.
“On the whole, there is a (push) for quality,” Way said. “I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”
“I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”
At the same time, the building on the block that had been the street party’s creative source is undergoing a similar transformation. The DIY madhouse days of the Summit Inn came to an abrupt end last year after it was bought out by developer Brad Padden who plans to renovate the entire building next year.
The Summit Inn and its resident community were key in getting the block party off the ground, but when Padden increased rents by $100 with promises of further increases, many tenants moved out. The original Summit Block Party organizers also decided to step away from the event this year. That doesn’t appear to be dampening the party. Way has made peace with the City and the new Summit Inn owners, who have agreed to provide electricity for the day-long event. “We’re just trying to do our part,” Padden said.
Two outdoor stages plus a stage inside the Redwood — on the chopping block itself, last we heard — will feature mostly local performers.
Still, the volunteer-run event funded though house shows earlier in the summer will remain the “real block party” for some — a far cry from the highly coordinated and corporate-sponsored Capitol Hill Block Party.
Meanwhile, Padden plans to start the estimated $2.5 million renovation to the Summit Inn in December and have units ready to rent in 2017. The plan is to add one story to the building and transform it into to a mix of dorm-style congregate units and “small efficiency dwelling units” with individual kitchens. Padden paid $2.9 million for the property late last year.
As City Hall continues to search for ways to create 20,000 affordable units in Seattle over the next decade, Padden’s building could be the first of its kind by mixing congregate and small studios together.
One recommendation that Padden says he would like to see enacted is to expand the multifamily tax exemption to congregate units. The program provides a tax credit for developers who make 20% of their units affordable.
Padden tells CHS he is also in the early stages of another similar project on Capitol Hill, but declined to give any further details.
CHS wrote about the part DIY madhouse, part Capitol Hill artist collective Summit Inn last year, and followed up in January after Padden took over from longtime owner Pete Sikov. Many of the Inn’s residents weren’t happy about the changes and Padden said most of those who were able to acquire relocation assistance have moved out.
The Summit Inn and Summit Block Party appear to be ready to respond to community concerns as both mature in the coming years. Padden has said he wants to find ways to keep art and music a part of the Summit Inn while Way is making himself available to direct feedback on the block party.
“I’m trying to be as welcoming as possible to have all the residents of the block come out and be a part of it,” Way said. “I want it to be a party for Seattle, but first for the block.”