Future of CHAC?


Gavin Cummins:
(same topic but moved from the Down n' Dirty forum)

I just read this on The Stranger Slog:


Goodbye CHAC. Hello Velocity?
posted by BRENDAN KILEY on MAY 12 at 11:40 AM
Looks like the great experiment in for-profit theater might be moving—perhaps against its will.

People have been trading all kinds of rumors about Capitol Hill Arts Center: that they’re moving (or being kicked) out, that they’re trying to buy their lovely brick building on 12th, that building owner Elizabeth Linke (who also owns the building that houses Northwest Film Forum) has been dissatisfied with CHAC’s slow slide from arts center to nightclub, etc.

Matthew Kwatinetz, CHAC’s founder and executive director, wrote in an email last Thursday: “The lease options are ours (meaning that the owner can’t decide not to renew our lease, that is our option, not hers), and yes we are definitely trying to purchase the building, as we have been for several years. Much of this buzz could be from all the advocacy work that I have been doing in the last several months trying to get the ‘crisis’ in real estate out there.”

But I just got off the phone with Elizabeth Linke (a politic and articulate lady from Britain, now living in Ballard): “Matthew did not exercise his option to renew in January—as far as I know, he’ll be moving out June 30.” As for selling the building to Kwatinetz, “he has asked to buy it, but that’s not up for discussion—I’m not interested in selling, period.”

So: CHAC is out, according to the building owner, but not CHAC itself. (It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out…)

Crave will stay and, according to owner and chef Robin Leventhal, maybe even expand.

Linke prefers to rent to arts organizations—she’s been “very satisfied” with the Film Forum as a tenant, but tactfully declined to comment on her satisfaction level with CHAC. “I have no axe to grind with Matthew,” she said. “He’ll be gone soon, to go do whatever it is he wants to do.”

Linke is having early-stage discussions with Velocity Dance Center about the possibility of renting to them. Velocity has to move out of its home in the Oddfellows Hall, whose new owner Ted Schroth has tripled their rent.

Velocity (which won the first Stranger Genius Award for organization five years ago) would be a perfect fit for the Building Formerly Known As CHAC. Its main room is a brick cavern, not unlike Velocity’s current home, with high ceilings and wood floors—but, sadly, no friezes of yawning lions on the walls.

You can’t have everything.

(Unless, of course, somebody at Velocity wants to “accidentally” leave the doors open and some extraction tools lying around sometime… )


Any thoughts?

Not to split the discussion to much, but COMPTE commented that it is always sad to a venue close.  Honestly, I am not sure that is true.  Not specifically the CHAC, but perhaps it wouldn't be bad to have one less venue and thus X number of few performances...at least on Capitol Hill.  There are a number of other spaces with open calendars.  Thoughts on that?

Gavin Cummins:
Trying to move the discussion over here...

Another article -

Capitol Hill Arts Center on the move, wants to buy its own space
By Misha Berson
Seattle Times theater critic
See more mapped stories
After five years at its original location, the Capitol Hill Arts Center (CHAC) will move by June 30, when its present lease ends.

CHAC did not exercise an option to renew its lease for its site at 1621 12th Ave., where the for-profit cultural organization has been presenting an array of events such as plays, cabaret shows, all-ages raves, plus subletting spaces to other tenants.

Matthew Kwatinetz, CHAC's director, said he offered to buy the building from owner Elizabeth Linke. She confirmed that she did not want to sell it.

"We're now definitely looking to buy our own space. We have the backers and money to purchase a building," said Kwatinetz, who has been actively involved in the communitywide effort to develop more arts facilities in Seattle's urban core, an effort with support from the City Council.

According to Kwatinetz, CHAC has in five years presented "more than 4,000 shows of every variety" in its current location.

"Our mission has definitely been achieved here," he said, "and now we'd like to broaden and do more in our own place. Of course, we'd really like to stay on Capitol Hill."

Linke said the popular restaurant Crave, also housed in the building, will remain. She is looking for another tenant, preferably an arts organization, to take over the main lease, and is currently "in discussions" with Velocity Dance Center. That nonprofit dance studio is looking to relocate from the Odd Fellows Hall, an East Pine Street building on Capitol Hill under new ownership. Rents there are rising for arts tenants.

Linke said the dance center is exploring whether the 12th Avenue site will meet its needs. No one from Velocity could be reached for comment.

TPS Admin:
As of June 15th, 2008, CHAC will be moving out of its current location at 1621 - 12th Avenue and going into a development period. After several years of unsuccessfully trying to purchase the building, we have decided to move on to look for a new permanent and owned home. We will not renew our leasing arrangement here due to issues with the current facility that forestall key growth areas for our business and mission. While we hope to keep our "downtime" as short as possible, there is no accurate way to project a new opening date until we can determine a new location. We are actively searching.

Many of you have come to me to express your sorrow and concern. I really appreciate that! But I must tell you that as much as I love this place, and what we have done here, I am also equally excited about the future.

There is no doubt that after over 3000 events here at 1621 - 12th, we've got a lot of memories stored. But I like to think of our time here as a debut album: it is a great first stab at our mission, and most importantly we have gained YOU, our core audience. But the future is also bright. The promise to build afresh, to use all the hard won lessons of this construction to rise again from the ashes...call me crazy, but that is my favorite part of this kaleidoscopic carnival of arts.

Alternatively, as several of you have said to me: "Congratulations on a great and extended run in that venue! Looking forward to seeing your next production."

I hope you will all come and join us for our blow-out garage sale on MONDAY, 12p to 12a, coinciding with our final and fabulous event BURN! on Monday night in the LL. We've got to drink up our remaining alcohol and sell everything in the building--seats, computers, sound, lights, desks, chairs, bar stools, etc. Come pick up a piece of CHAC for your home.

I hope you will also come out and see some of the great shows happening here this weekend: Cirque du Slaque, EPIC, Electric Avenue, Club V, Thunder, Seattle True Independent Film Festival, and more! I will be here, and toasting you all on Monday night, so join us to share some memories.

I'll be sending out 1-2 more emails letting you know what is going on for us next. Til then,

Matthew Kwatinetz Producing Artistic Director

CHAC: Keeping it Live on the Hill!


[0] Message Index