SouthEast Effective Development, Inc Programs
Our three program areas include Economic Development, Arts & Cultural Enhancement & Affordable Housing.
Encourage development in areas designated for mixed-use, higher density development patterns that encourage walking, bicycling, and plans for a multimodal network that may include transit services and facilities. This "compact development" includes working with businesses, organizations, and institutions to improve existing commercial areas and broaden the mix of retail and commercial enterprises in SE Seattle. Our primary goal is to create more local commercial spaces that are viable, safe, and affordable, so that small, "mom and pop" businesses can thrive alongside the larger national chains that are moving into SE Seattle neighborhoods. Our mixed-use properties include: Chubby & Tubby, Rainier Valley Square, Washington Care Center, Courtland Place, and the Dakota. Our economic development work also builds coalitions with community and merchant groups, develops plans and strategies to strengthen the community, and coordinates a facade improvement program.
Arts & Cultural Development
Promote sustainable arts and cultural programs as a key strategy of SEED's mission to develop healthy and livable communities. Through SEEDArts, we offer a mix of programming that furthers artistic excellence, nurtures artists from all cultures, preserves and disseminates cultural traditions, and provides artistic experiences and opportunities for all residents. SEEDArts plays an integral role by addressing the need to steward community stories and cultural traditions that are emblematic of the people and places that connect people to their neighborhoods and to one another.
For 31 years, SEEDArts has provided visual and performing arts experiences that build cultural awareness and understanding in our community. We own and operate two arts facilities that together provide a vibrant home for numerous community-based visual and performing arts programs (the Rainier Valley Cultural Center and the Columbia City Gallery). We have fostered the creation of new artwork including plays, music, films, public art, and gallery-featured studio art from cultures including West Africa, Cuba, China, the Philippines, Mexico, Native American, Vietnamese, and East Africa.
Our Columbia City Gallery exhibits the work of local ethnically diverse artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity to show their work publicly. Our Arts Gumbo Series features the diverse ethnicities and cultures of SE Seattle in a series of public performances, participatory workshops, discussions, and culturally-specific cuisine offered to audiences.
Our Rainier Valley Cultural Center is home to numerous community groups and our youth arts education program. Our Public Art Program has created over 40 public art pieces in SE Seattle, including sculpture and murals created by residents and youth working together with artists to provide amenities in their communities.
Affordable Housing Development
SEED encourages the availability of affordable housing for all economic segments of the population, promotes a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encourages the preservation of existing housing stock. We purchase and rehabilitate existing apartment buildings and develop new buildings to provide safe, attractive, and affordable housing for residents. Our housing projects include: Charleston Apartments, Lilac Lodge, Columbia Hotel, Lake Washington Apartments, Nuaanu Pali Apartments, Oregon Place Apartments, and Rainier Court. SEED takes an innovative approach to the development of affordable housing by supporting family access to new homes, improving existing housing stock, and strengthening community apartment management skills. We currently own and/or manage 1,049 apartment units that directly service low-to-moderate income groups, disabled and elderly residents, and family units. SEED also acts as a consultant and in some cases as a project manager to other non-profits organizations working in the housing sector.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Our greatest strength is our reputation in our community and with local government as a 34-year-old organization that has many successful development projects to our credit. Our programs and services are trusted and respected and therefore supported by our constituents. In 2005 SEED's Rainier Court affordable housing development project won the EPA Region 10 Phoenix award for the reclamation of a contaminated urban property and the American Council of Engineering Companies Silver Award for Social, Economic and Sustainable design. SEED is responsible for the Southeast Seattle Reinvestment Area and the Genesee Business District Overlay that has been established in Seattle's municipal code to stimulate commercial development. SEED is also responsible for developing both the Southeast Action Plan and the Overall Development Program that continue to provide the blueprint for neighborhood planning adopted by the City of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan. Last year, SEED was given the 2008 Rainier Beach Award for Neighborhood Commitment. SEEDArts programs and staff have been recruited by both King County Housing Authority and Seattle's Mayor's Office to integrate the arts into public housing development plans and the Mayor's SE Seattle Action Agenda. In 2005, SEEDArts was named a Civic Partner by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and was also awarded a Governor's Arts Award for our "significant contributions to the creativity and culture of Washington State." We have repeatedly been recognized with funding from the Department of Neighborhoods, 4Culture (both arts and heritage divisions), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Washington State Arts Commission.
An internal challenge we face is keeping good staff in place at the salary levels SEED can afford. The projects we take on require continuity of leadership. Maintaining strong relationships with community project partners is difficult when staff project managers change jobs, so retaining quality staff members is a priority. We work to maintain a balance between attractive compensation and fiscal responsibility. SEED currently works with a very lean personnel roster and lacks several key positions that could potentially help grow and strengthen our organization and programs. In this tough economic time, we don't have plans for major hiring increases, but additional general operating funds give us the flexibility to increase some staff hours as needed.