Belltown is breathing heavy under the weight of transformation. Former neighborhood icons like the Speakeasy are now half used parking lots. Geriatric brick apartment buildings are searching for an identity amongst the primary colored condos that have been thrown up in the recent boom years. Where is the neighborhood headed? Have we lost our way or is there still hope for the organic birth of culture from the heart of this neighborhood?
City Hostel Seattle is ambitiously targeting a mid August opening. The historic Lorraine hotel will become Belltown’s nucleus of art and community. Over 47 artists are transforming what used to be a dilapidated low income housing development into a palate of raw expression. Each room will feature a unique vision; the walls transformed into an uncensored canvas. Known Seattle artists such as Joey Nix and Weirdo are there now, streaming paint in a building buzzing with construction workers. A hostel in the heart of Belltown in the plainest sense would be extraordinary. But, the scale and concentration of this artistic concept in one historic building could be the fuel that sets the neighborhood on fire.
The man passionately behind the vision is Lee Kindell. He speaks with the confidence of a man in mid-flight; already having taken the leap. It is a stretch for him to remember the days he was working as a server at Teatro Zinzani, sketching ideas on paper in hopes of opening up his first hostel in Ballard. Scream two years into the future and Lee is only picking up speed with his eyes intently focused on the future and the challenges ahead.
photos courtesy of Mona Peck: BlackandMilk