Seattle Historic Arts District Refinances for Future Success

The walls of Seattle’s Pioneer Square Historic District have long featured canvases splashed with elevating colors and dramatic shapes. Yet this neighborhood’s rich artistic and cultural tradition experienced a slump in the 1990s when market forces drove artists out of the area at an alarming rate.

Hoping to preserve the district for the arts, the Pioneer Square Community Development Organization invited Artspace, a non-profit real estate developer, to transform two turn-of-the-century buildings into facilities for painters, sculptors, and creatives of all types.

“When Artspace was invited to develop the TK, Pioneer Square was at risk of losing the artists who brought so much to their community,” said Artspace President Kelley Lindquist.

In 2004, the newly renovated space opened its doors as the Tashiro-Kaplan Building, or ‘TK.’ Both a commercial and residential space, TK houses the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts, which provides 50 units of affordable housing and creative space for artists and their families. Also part of the complex is the Tashiro Arts Building, a for-profit entity that offers below-market-rate gallery and commercial space for 28 arts-related businesses. Recently, RSF Social Finance provided a mortgage loan to allow Tashiro Arts Building to refinance their space and free-up capital for upcoming maintenance.

TK Artist Building 2 edited

“RSF strives to support organizations that provide physical space to create and display art, and support the economic vitality of the arts,” says Reed Mayfield, RSF Senior Lending Associate. “Tashiro’s mission and impact absolutely aligns with those goals.”

In addition to below-market gallery space, Tashiro also provides tenants the benefits of a collaborative community of artists and curators. Occupants include: 4Culture, a public development authority of Seattle; individual artist working studios; artist exhibit co-ops; and some of the most prestigious commercial galleries in Seattle.

“Artists are under tremendous financial pressure, and providing permanently affordable space where they can live and create provides benefits that go well beyond the individual artist to benefit an entire community,” said Lindquist.

Tashiro Arts Building and Artspace represent a growing movement, commonly referred to as ‘creative placemaking,’ to develop properties for the purpose of providing studio, gallery, or office space for artists and creative economy businesses. Participating artists in these spaces benefit from the co-location because of shared costs, visibility, and opportunities to collaborate.

By going above and beyond making space available, creative placemaking organizations, like Tashiro and Artspace, are able to leverage the power of art, culture, and creativity to catalyze community growth and transformation.

About Tashiro Arts Building

Located in Seattle WA, Tashiro Arts Building is driven with a mission to preserve the historic Pioneer Square’s status as an arts district by providing the infrastructure to support individual artists and commercial arts-related entities. Long time gallery tenants access below market gallery space and enjoy the benefits of a collaborative community of artists and curators. Currently, Tashiro houses 28 commercial arts-related entities. To learn more, visit http://tklofts.com/

About Artspace

Established in 1979, Artspace is a Minneapolis, MN based non-profit creative place making real estate developer. Artspace’s mission is to build better communities through the arts. The organization has 35 properties that range from artist lofts to performing arts venues. Artspace acts as a consultant and developer for projects in 23 states, including Tashiro Arts Building, and partners with public and private funding sources to build projects. To learn more, visit http://www.artspace.org/

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