The activist group Queer Youth Space has finally found a space. After a multi-year campaign of plastering Capitol Hill with pink leaflets declaring that "We need Queer Youth Space" and hitting up every funder they could, the group posted a banner on its Facebook page declaring "the search is over."
Kyle Rapiñan, one of the group's directors, says they've signed a lease in June for a second-story suite at 911 East Pike, just off of Broadway. The rental is intended as a youth-run community center for LGBT folks under 21.
Before the doors officially open, Rapiñan says, the group must raise money to build a gender-neutral bathroom, counseling room, and performance space for artists. Rapiñan said he's not sure when the space will open for good. That said, there's an open-house preview planned for this Friday. Another complication: From the outside, it seems that one needs to be buzzed in or let in at the door by a tenant (Rapiñan didn't have details on how access would work).
The Seattle City Council awarded the group a $100,000 grant in June 2010. But many spaces hadn't worked out. "We looked at and negotiated with managers of 10 or 11 spaces," said Rapiñan, "and each had a different reason as to why it wouldn't work." First, the group had to find a space within their budget; the city and the Queer Youth Space board required the space be wheelchair accessible; and several of their partners dropped out.
Rapiñan had also said the space couldn't be near a bar, which supposedly make the surrounding area unsafe and unhealthy. When I talked to him today about the newly leased location, he said the distance from bars "is not a concern" in the new space.
As it happens, the new space will be across the street from a bar, kitty corner from a nightclub packed with bars, and in a neighborhood stuffed with bars on every block.
Now that the lease is signed, the group has received the $100,000 Department of Neighborhoods matching grant to pay the lease, and Rapiñan said the city had been "very accommodating" throughout the process.