The Historic Cooper School is also known as Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a mixed-use project developed by Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to engage residents, businesses, and institutions in creating and maintaining a thriving Delridge.” The structure underwent extensive renovation and was reborn as the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in 2006. The building’s three stories house 36 affordable live/work apartments on the upper two floors. A performing arts theater shares the ground floor with an art gallery, café, offices for arts and cultural organizations, and a scene shop. The former playground area was used to create 27 parking spaces.
Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (Historic Cooper School)
Closed for over a decade due to safety issues, the building was in need of extensive re-construction. Construction challenges included performing a major seismic upgrade with the addition of shear walls and steel bracing at the east wall. A complete upgrade of the sprinkler system was required to meet fire protection standards; and new water and electrical service, and sanitary sewer were installed. To bring the building back to full use from years of exposure, crews performed extensive cleaning of the exterior masonry, along with a complete re-build of the roof, and restoration of all windows on the 1st floor. Walsh also juggled a two-phased schedule, first building out the housing units and the ground floor, and continuing construction on the theater, offices, and activity rooms on the ground floor, while tenants moved into their new homes on the upper floors.
Youngstown was built in 1917 and was one of the first schools in the Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle. For over 70 years it was connected to the economic growth of Delridge and the surrounding area. The building is also listed on the National Historic Register, and was the stage for pioneering accomplishments in education and a source of civic pride. Through careful restoration, this exceptional building was made healthy and safe once again for the needs and enjoyment of the community, and continues to fill a distinctive role, combining affordable housing with a cultural center and theatre.
Preserving neighborhood identity was an important consideration in the rehabilitation of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a small Seattle building with a big role in the local community. Residents had long been interested in finding a new use for the three-story brick building, and gave enthusiastic support, organizing fundraising drives for the renovation. The 42,403-square-foot building provides affordable live/work housing for low-income artists; a performing arts theater; a visual arts gallery, café, offices for arts and cultural organizations, a scene shop, and multi-purpose space for arts and cultural organizations. The result of a concerted and united community effort, Youngstown has stepped back into its original role at the center of the community; offering arts and education programs, and a place for public gatherings. The project’s success as affordable housing was also acknowledged when Youngstown Cultural Arts Center received a Gold Nugget Award of Merit from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference.