The space — known as V2 — will temporarily provide a home for One Reel, which runs Bumbershoot, and will make extra room for Velocity Dance Center. The space helps, but doesn’t solve, the ongoing pressure on arts groups to find affordable space.
A new temporary art space is coming to Capitol Hill in March, in the old Value Village location.
While the site, owned by Bellevue-based real estate management firm Legacy Commercial, will ultimately be redeveloped to become a mixed-use project with offices and retail space, the art space — known as V2 — will temporarily provide 30,000 square feet for the arts before Legacy starts construction in 2017. The Value Village closed in November.
The first two tenants in V2, on 11th Avenue, will be multidisciplinary arts organization One Reel, best known for running the Bumbershoot music and arts festival, and Velocity Dance Center, which is also managing the space.
The project is part of the Capitol Hill Art District, one of two art districts in the city. The program was created in 2014 to protect the arts in Capitol Hill and the Central Area. About 44 arts and cultural organizations are located in Capitol Hill, according to Matthew Richter, the Office of Arts and Culture’s cultural liaison.
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V2 will provide space for performances, artist residencies, rehearsals, forums and other community events, said Tonya Lockyer, Velocity’s artistic director and Capitol Hill Art District co-chair. Velocity dancers are already using it for rehearsals.
“I looked at it and the rest of the Velocity team realized it was such a perfect floor for dance,” Lockyer said while describing the space’s wood floors, natural light, and lack of pillars in a space of that size. “We had to step up and make the effort because there is no other space like it in the city that really motivated us.”
Legacy Commercial is offering the space at rent below market rate, while the Office of Arts and Culture is investing $20,000. Velocity and One Reel have signed an initial six-month lease, with options to renew once it ends.
Richter acknowledged that the space is a Band-Aid solution for what is going on in Capitol Hill — artists priced out of the neighborhood by skyrocketing rents.
“We’ve seen artists and art organizations forced out of what had been very affordable spaces,” Richter said. “Two years ago, we were the fastest-growing large city in America, and we continue to grow at this insane rate and that growth is into former neighborhood land.”
Lockyer said that Velocity has experienced the squeeze. The studio had to leave Cap Hill’s Oddfellows Hall in 2008 after the new owner doubled the rent. Velocity found its current location at 12th Avenue and Pine Street in 2010, but space remains tight as the studio’s programs continue to expand.
“We didn’t have a place where artists could actually work on their choreography and be in residency and not be interrupted,” she said. “We are drawing incredible dancers to our city and our challenge is finding a space to meet the needs of this vibrant community.”
Velocity will continue to occupy the space at 12th and Pine as well.
In September, Velocity conducted a survey of 307 artists and community members; the main sentiment was that they moved to the neighborhood to be closer to the arts community, but are increasingly unable to afford living there.
For One Reel’s executive director, Chris Weber, the new location — where One Reel will have offices and storage space — is an opportunity to collaborate with other organizations while creating new programs throughout the year.
“As a nonprofit in this town, market rate isn’t something you even look at, so this for us was a huge opportunity that allowed us to stay in Capitol Hill, and allowed us to have more space than we probably would have been able to at this time, so it’s really an amazing opportunity,” he said. “We’re excited about the next year in the space and I think we are going to try and not worry about the future too much.”
And for Lockyer, V2 is only the beginning as organizations continue to collaborate on permanent solutions for art spaces in their neighborhood.
“Artists are being displaced on Capitol Hill as it becomes increasingly less affordable to live on the Hill and find space to work on the Hill, and to have this incredible space in the middle of that district empty, that just wasn’t an option,” she said, adding, “We really want to get that space activated by artists.”