Mayor Jenny A. Durkan last week signed the Cultural Space Agency Public Development Authority charter to create the first new PDA in nearly 40 years.

According to a press release, the Cultural Space Agency is a first-of-its-kind cultural real estate development company, chartered by the City of Seattle and guided by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders from across the cultural, community development and commercial real estate sectors.  

“The Cultural Space Agency is central to our work to ensure an equitable recovery from COVID-19 for our artists, nonprofits and cultural organizations,” Durkan said in a news release. “Our artists and cultural communities have been on the frontlines of the slew of crises we’ve faced this year, and the pandemic, an economic downturn with job losses and civil-rights reckoning have laid bare and further magnified our region’s inequities. We can choose the city that we want to be as we recover from COVID-19. The Cultural Space Agency will lead with equitable development strategies, and center our artistic and cultural communities as a central tactic to rebuild civic health and wealth.”  

 According to the news release, the purpose of the Cultural Space Agency “is to develop cultural space real estate projects in a way that reflects the needs and desires of communities that have borne the burden of institutional racism; build community wealth through investment opportunities in cultural real estate projects; and partner with commercial real estate developers and cultural community stakeholders to create real property projects that reflect the interests and priorities of both.”  

 The Cultural Space Agency will seek long-term site control on behalf of and in partnership with community cultural organizations representing communities of color. The organization will acquire properties and create property ownership opportunities in communities historically denied ownership options.

The City of Seattle has dedicated $500,000 each year for two years for initial operating costs and anticipates leveraging philanthropic investments to secure millions of additional dollars in capital investment in community-based projects.  

The newly formed Public Development Authority will be paired with the nonprofit Cultural Space Agency. Working together, they will support the mission and vision of affordable, locally-controlled, culturally-focused community space. The PDA will be primary in stewarding inter-governmental relationships and in executing commercial real estate transactions, while the nonprofit will take the lead on philanthropic and community relationships.