Expanding Rainier Oven’s community of affordable creative studios

An acre of Central Area redevelopment focused on artists, makers and entrepreneurs.

Long term affordability to support creativity
The Rainier Oven is a thriving community of artists, makers and entrepreneurs at the intersection of major arterials, Rainier Avenue and Jackson Street.  The owner, an artist herself, cultivated the community organically over the last dozen years to provide flexible and affordable work spaces for diverse creatives, including jewelry makers, sculptors, non-profits, and architects. Tenants work across an acre of property within a small collection of buildings centered around a century-old brick warehouse.  The property has one of the busiest frontages in all of Seattle and are surrounded by transit and several rapidly evolving, multicultural neighborhoods, including Little Saigon, Central Area, and Yesler Terrace.

The owner is committed to a rare collection of positive impacts, including new construction of affordable office space with zero-displacement of an existing community of artists and entrepreneurs.

The property is largely underutilized with three of the five lots open and more than 200,000 SF of available FAR, so as Seattle real estate values increase, the opportunity and pressure to grow the community is also increasing.  But the owner is committed to several seemingly challenging goals, requiring creative strategies for redevelopment.  Redevelopment goals include:

  • maintain the existing unreinforced masonry structure
  • increase amount of affordable commercial space
  • zero displacement of existing tenants
  • sponsor forward-thinking architectural design
  • improve surrounding pedestrian experience

FIX’s Role
FIX, in collaboration with Best Practice Architecture, guided the owner through visioning and feasibility analysis. A phased redevelopment strategy is slated to begin construction in 2019.