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Frequently Asked Questions

HSD exists to mitigate the impact of large-scale publicly-funded project. We pursue this mission by investing in the people and organizations of South Downtown, and through advocacy work that elevates the voices of those who live, work, and play in Pioneer Square and Chinatown International District in Seattle.

Any other questions? Please reach out.


Common Questions

What is Historic South Downtown?

Historic South Downtown (HSD) was created by the Washington state legislature in 2007. We preserve, restore, and promote the past, present, and future of Seattle's Pioneer Square and Chinatown International District neighborhoods. HSD responds to the latest impacts on the neighborhood including public works & facilities, construction, and development projects. Our goal is to ensure that the community is not left with the negatives of these projects, but also reap community and economic benefits.

What is a CPDA or Community Preservation and Development Authority?

Great question! Legally, HSD is a state-created authority bounded by the two neighborhoods that we serve. We are here to amplify the voices of the community in larger policy discussions and as a way to fund small local organizations. We are not a charity nor a non-profit. HSD is a government component: an instrumentality of the state working on a grassroots level.

HSD is one of two CPDAs in Washington. The Central District CPDA is based at the McKinney Center for Community and Economic Development, at South Jackson St and 22nd Ave S.

Where is Historic South Downtown?

Seattle! HSD is south of the current downtown, comprised of two mixed-use neighborhoods. Pioneer Square runs along the waterfront while the stadium is to our south. The CID is east of 4th Ave S all the way to Rainier Ave, and Yesler Ave south to I-90. Both neighborhoods house a mix of historic and commercial buildings with residential apartments above.

What do you do?

HSD is governed by a 13-member board made up of people intimately connected to the neighborhood. Our board is made up of people who live and work in the community and are involved in policy at the city, county, and state levels. We work with community organizations here in the HSD to create change and solutions to the issues in the neighborhoods. To become involved, attend one of our meetings or join the board

What makes Historic South Downtown unique?

One of the many incredible things about HSD has been our ability to pivot funding toward the immediate needs of our community. This was never more true than these past few years. Due to the pandemic, many of our grantees had to quickly pivot their program focuses to stay afloat and provide immediate aid. Unlike other grant programs, HSD understands that as the world changes, our needs change with it. We are always open to communication with our grantees if a project must refocus from its original plan.

Can I get funding?

Currently, funding is closed as we work with the state legislature.

We recommend that you sign up for our newsletter as we will send out a newsletter as soon as funding applications are available. To learn more about the types of projects we fund, click here. *HSD does not fund housing proposals.

Where does your funding come from?

Our funding comes through the State, through taxes or bonds. In the past we’ve worked with Transit Oriented Development funding administered by King County. We are working with the Washington legislature to identify on-going, sustainable funding sources. Please watch our newsletter for information on those efforts.

Who do you support?

We support the HSD neighborhoods through hands-on experiences and feedback. As an interested grant applicant living or working in the CID or Pioneer Square we will ask you one simple question: "How would you make things better for one or both of these neighborhoods?" We are a community-led organization. We depend on the people to let us know what the issues and opportunities of the neighborhoods are, how to address them, and what the desired outcome is. Do we need more affordable art spaces? More mentorship or entrepreneurs? Better lighting for safety? Air filters for our seniors?

Addresses to help our unhoused neighbors? We want to support the neighborhood. Period.

What is “historic”?

It depends on who you ask. Our program is not particularly focused on “official designations” by the state or city or federal government. The majority of both Pioneer Square and the Chinatown International District are already listed to the National Register of Historic Places, which is one definition of historic. Both neighborhoods are also under special design review with the city as historic districts (another definition). We believe that a sense of continuity, tying the current places to the past with a vision of holding that history into the future, as a place for people to build community and practice culture , is a more useful definition for the community-building work our board envisions.

Should public money support these projects?

Yep. 100%. Historic preservation creates jobs, has a significant impact beyond a project, and impacts local labor and supply chains more than new construction. Community and neighborhood preservation is a good economic development strategy, good housing policy, good environmental policy, and a good tourism strategy. These older neighborhoods are built with good infrastructure for small businesses, mixed with dense housing, with walkability and public transit in the original design.

We also believe that improving the quality of life for our neighborhoods can happen in a wide variety of ways. We are here to support the dreams and visions of our neighbors.

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