Gray (Affordable Housing for Artists)

Artspace, the folks who developed Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square, are just finishing their second Seattle project, Hiawatha Lofts, a block southeast of Rainier Ave. and Dearborn St. The building houses 61 low-income artists lofts, 5000 square feet of retail space, and 54 underground parking stalls. Designed by SMR Architects, who specialize in low-income housing and historic preservation; project cost: $17 million.

Yes, she’s a gray lady, all gray but for a splash of intense blue on either end, and the brown wood lintels over the storefronts. And all those white window mullions, which, while they do have that cheap vinyl look, also give the facade an unusual and satisfying rhythm and texture.

A gray building in gray Seattle. So be it. The art inside can provide the color. Overall, I think this building is successful architecturally because it is based on a few simple and strong ideas: a clean and crisp 4-story box; gray metal siding; tall and skinny floor-to-ceiling windows. No doubt this project had a very tight budget, all the more reason to stick with simple design elements.

Seattle needs more low-income housing projects like this — so how did it happen? First of all, the City of Seattle gave the land (valued at $1.7 million) to the developers in exchange for the guarantee that the low-income housing will be available for 75 years. The project also requested $3 million from the City’s 2002 affordable housing levy. The State chipped in $1 million, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation contributed $400,000. All in all, it appears that roughly one third of the project cost was subsidized.

And that’s the bottom line: If we want affordable housing built in Seattle, it will have to be heavily subsidized. Socialism is us.

7 Responses to “Gray (Affordable Housing for Artists)”

  1. SA

    I agree. They made a pretty good balance between form and function. Lots of natural light and subdued eccentricities rather than an impractical (& shiny)sculpture with doors. btw… I’d say those were muntins more than mullions, but maybe I’m looking at something else.

  2. Housing, Political Courage, and Thinking Outside the Box | hugeasscity

    […] We need TIF, and we need a development authority was some, er, cohones. One of the reasons that projects such as this are able to happen is through multiple sources of funding. TIF is such a source, and having a development authority with a series of mandates that reflects the multiple layers of action needed (let’s call it the “Seattle Sustainable Development Commission”) would allow leverage of federal and state funds, city land, and other resources to really be proactive. Tools such as multifamily tax abatements, incentive zoning, etc are useful, but they pale in comparison to a fully funded, quasi-governmental development authority with TIF powers. Until then, we’re just piddling at the corners. So, yes, we need political courage and thinking outside of the box. We need to be proactive and stop with the lipstick on the pig. But Royer had another good point. Politicians need political support. Who’s going to give it to them? […]

  3. More Affordable Housing at Jackson Place | hugeasscity

    […] The Pontedera will be the third affordable housing project in this little corner of Jackson Place: right next door to the south is Hiawatha Artists Lofts, and a block east on Davis Place is The Stellina, also developed by HomeSight. Adding to the eclectic mix of housing is Jackson Place Cohousing, on the east side of Hiawatha Place. […]

  4. John of Humdinger

    6.1 million public dollars to provide 61 low-income rental units?
    ‘Hope those are really happy artists; they each got a $100,000 handout.

  5. Money Ways

    Hi, nice info on your blog. I have always known that property is the way to go when gathering investment wealth both as a business and of course individually. I have only recently started to purchase property in Europe with this in mind, so your Blog has been very helpful. Once again thanks so much and all the best, Mike

  6. Artist seeking info on seattle jobs, art scene, housing etc. - Seattle and King County Suburbs - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

    […] To answer your question about subsidized artist housing, I did a google search, and there are a couple of places. However the wait list is over a year for both. Here are links: Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Lofts in Seattle, WA 98104 | Low Income Housing at Cooper Artist Housing in Seattle, WA 98106 | Low Income Housing at Gray (Affordable Housing for Artists) | hugeasscity […]

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