The community-based preservation organization Historic Seattle is teaming up with the current owners of the Good Arts Building, whose upper floors are home to ’57 Biscayne studios, to preserve the building and continue its mission as a hub for arts, culture and creative enterprises in perpetuity.
Historic Seattle’s board has given preliminary approval to an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the property.
The Good Arts Building, located at 110 Cherry Street, on the corner of First Avenue, stands at the north gateway to Seattle’s Pioneer Square Preservation District.
Historically known as the Scheuerman Block, it was designed by Elmer Fisher in 1889 for Christian Scheuerman and completed in 1890. Throughout the years, the building has been a hub of entrepreneurial, creative, and colorful endeavors.
The name “Good Arts” pays homage to “Good Eats,” a two-story diner once housed in its walls. The building has also been home to department stores, a cigar shop, jazz club, boxing gym, brothels, speakeasies and the original office of Washington Mutual Savings Bank.
In the 1970s, the basement housed the first gay and lesbian community center in Seattle, followed by the Skid Road Theatre, in which such local theatrical stalwarts as Kurt Beattie, R. Hamilton Wright, and Linda Hartzell produced original shows during the company’s 10 successful years.
In 2011, the building took on its current role, as a hub for the arts, when a dozen artists, evicted from the nearby 619 Western Building, established ’57 Biscayne studios on the second floor.
In 2015, Good Arts LLC—an unlikely collaboration of developer Greg Smith, artist Jane Richlovsky, theatre veteran Steve Coulter, and Cherry Street Coffee founder Ali Ghambari—purchased the building with the mission of preserving its artistic heritage and affordability to creative enterprises. The building now houses 27 artist studios, as well as Bad Bishop Bar, Saké Nomi, Beneath the Streets Tours and other small businesses.
“Since acquiring the building in 2015, Good Arts LLC has done an incredible job of providing affordable space for artists in Seattle’s most historic and artistic neighborhood, Pioneer Square,” said Kji Kelly, executive director at Historic Seattle. “Protecting community use of space is critical in this changing city.
“While landmarking and historic districts save places, mission-based ownership is what protects purpose. Our organization is dedicated to saving meaningful places that foster lively communities, so this partnership with Good Arts LLC is in perfect alignment with our mission,” Kelly continued.
“Too often artists’ cultural and economic contributions are rewarded with displacement from the neighborhoods they helped make interesting and vital,” Richlovsky added. “It’s rare that developers recognize that, and even rarer they step up to help.”
“Arts and culture are central to the historic fabric of Seattle and what makes Pioneer Square and our broader community unique and vibrant to this day,” said Urban Visions CEO and Good Arts partner Greg Smith. “Preserving this building and the artistic endeavors within was a personal passion of mine and I am thrilled to see Historic Seattle taking this step to ensure the building’s long-term uses will remain focused on fostering arts, culture and creativity.”
Now, Richlovsky, who has had a studio in Pioneer Square for 20 years, is looking forward to a new chapter.
“I’m really excited to take what we’ve built together and hand the reins to Historic Seattle. They get us,” she said. “I am planning to be here for at least 20 more.”