The sale of the old Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley site, at 2101 22nd Ave. S., closed on Aug. 14.
The sale of the old Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley site, at 2101 22nd Ave. S., closed on Aug. 14.

Music education nonprofit Seattle JazzED is partnering with Capitol Hill Housing to develop an affordable apartment building in Rainier Valley with a youth performing arts center and music school on the ground floor.

Laurie de Koch, Seattle JazzED cofounder and executive director, said she was approached by Lake Washington Girls Middle School and Giddens School in January 2017 about partnering to develop the old Imperial Lanes Bowling Alley, 2101 22nd Ave. S.

“They realized that they couldn’t afford to develop the entire city block,” de Koch said. “When the opportunity fell in our laps, we thought, ‘What a wonderful concept, but how does this small nonprofit buy a $2.4 million piece of property.’”

Seattle JazzED families have, like many in the city, been impacted by issues surrounding housing affordability, de Koch said. Forty-two percent of students receive full or partial financial aid.

Seattle JazzED went searching for an affordable housing developer to bring into the project, said de Koch, who was surprised by the positive reception she received from all of them.

She said it was Capitol Hill Housing’s positive work with the Central District community to develop affordable housing reflective and inclusive of the neighborhood that made the public corporation an ideal partner. Jazz is about empowerment, collaboration and confidence, de Koch said.

“I feel like jazz really represents the way we want to do this building and work with people,” she said.

The sale of the old bowling alley site closed on Aug. 14, with a $2.3 million loan coming from the Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) fund, which is administered by Enterprise Community Partners.

“Access to affordable housing, education, transit, and arts create the foundation for healthy, productive lives and economic opportunity,” said James Madden, Enterprise Community Partners senior program director, in a news release. “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.”

Capitol Hill Housing expects to complete its Liberty Bank Building at 24th Avenue and East Union in February, which is being accomplished in partnership with the Africatown Community Land Trust, as are future designs for a companion development to the Midtown Center redevelopment at 23rd and Union.

CHH is also working to redevelop the old Eldridge Tire building on Broadway in Capitol Hill. Across the street, CHH is working with YouthCare to develop a homeless youth opportunity center. It’s also developing an LGBTQ-affirming senior housing apartment building next to its Helen V Apartments.

“We’re going to need many, many more affordable apartment buildings to resolve this affordable housing crisis,” said Michael Seiwerath, vice president of advancement and external affairs at CHH, “and creative partnerships like this are the best way forward.”

The Lake Washington Girls Middle School and Giddens School will occupy their own new buildings on two separate parcels, and CHH will potentially construct five floors of affordable housing on top of JazzED. Seiwerath said zoning and potential changes in construction requirements could affect the ultimate number of floors CHH develops.

“Just because you can build one more floor doesn’t always mean it’s financially feasible,” he said.

Seiwerath said a major challenge is the limited funding the City of Seattle has available to support affordable housing development. The Office of Housing has $40-$70 million available annually, and there’s currently around $250 million in requests, he said.

With the Rainier Valley development so far out, he said CHH will be exploring multiple funding sources, including the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

“It’s a critical tool that we use on most, if not all of the projects that we’ve just filed through,” he said, adding Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell has been a “champion” for pushing to increase the LIHTC.

Seattle JazzED is in the early stages of creating its $10 million capital funding campaign for the project, de Koch said, which will include seeking city, state and private support.

“We envision it’s going to take us several years to do, but we’re hopeful,” she said.

Seattle JazzED’s future home will increase educational and performance space to 12,000 square feet, which is expected to allow for programs to reach 2,000 more youth annually, according to a news release.

Plans are to increase programming, such as a full choral program, drumline and other arts instructions, plus after-school tutoring and summer camps, and add space for repairing donated instruments that can then be provided to students, according to a news release.

The nonprofit currently serves more than 900 young musicians in three classrooms in the MLK F.A.M.E. Community Center in Madison Valley, which has required Seattle JazzED to be creative with its limited space.

“Their rents are affordable, and they’re in high demand,” de Koch said. “Nobody’s leaving, and that’s why it’s so hard for us to get more space.”

The community center has worked to accommodate the nonprofit when it needs to find additional room, de Koch said, but JazzED participation is expected to keep growing during the development process for the new education and performance center, which could take up to five years to come to fruition.

“I’m not sure where that’s going to lead us at this point,” de Koch said. “It’s a great problem to have — we’re grateful.”