Document Type

Case Study

Publication Date



Bret Fetzer; Matthew Richter; Charles Romero; Leigh Ann Smith


Susan Kunimatsu


Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was established in the late 19th century as an enclave for the well-to-do. By the 1970s, the neighborhood had declined, its handsome buildings filled with cheap apartments, vacant lofts and storefronts. Artists flocked there to establish theater and dance companies, studios, galleries, and other fringe arts spaces. Capitol Hill Housing Improvement Program (CHHIP), founded as a Public Development Authority in 1976, bought up old, under-maintained buildings and renovated them into affordable housing. Within three decades, these two forces remade Capitol Hill into a dense, walkable, culturally rich neighborhood, ripe for gentrification. New construction and skyrocketing rents displaced residents and cultural spaces that made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. CHHIP, now Capitol Hill Housing (CHH), collaborated with neighborhood arts organizations to develop the site of a Seattle Police Department parking lot into a multiuse complex of 88 subsidized apartments; commercial and office space; a shared parking garage; and two black box theaters. 12th Avenue Arts succeeded because it responded to the specific needs of a complex community at a critical point in time.

Organization or Event

12th Avenue Arts

Form of Entity


Area of Activity

Venue/Facility, Arts in Community Development

Artistic Discipline

Theatre, Multidisciplinary Arts, Interdisciplinary Art