Central District’s Liberty Bank landmark bid moves to next step

libertybankinterior11-300x294An effort to save an empty but historically significant 1960s bank near the intersection of 23rd and Union got its first round of approval for landmark status last week. The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted late Wednesday afternoon to accept the nomination of the former Liberty Bank building, the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest.

The building will have to win another round of approval from the board to be preserved as an historical city landmark. The utilitarian building, which has sat empty and fenced off since KeyBank left in September, is planned to be razed for an affordable housing project. Capitol Hill Housing has been in negotiations with KeyBank to buy the building and erect a mixed-use development on the site.

Longtime Central District/Africatown activist Omari Garrett filed the landmarks petition for the bank. He said his fight to preserve the bank ran deeper than just saving a building.

“Our children are not on the street shooting eachother because they dont have a place to stay. They don’t have Black institutions to look up to, they don’t see Black bank owners,” Garrett said. “Housing is not our problem in the Central Area. Our problem is identity and having cultural institutions in Africatown.”

A community post on the Central District News site praised the board’s vote:

Members of Seattle’s Africatown attended the meeting to continue to advocate and preserve the cultural and historic fabric of the african american central district community, now known as ‘Africatown”.

Historic preservation, economy success, education, and cultural identity all make a substantial contribution to Seattle’s Africatown community.

The success of the nomination was the right thing to do.

It was the only thing to do.

Community. Culture.

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5 thoughts on “Central District’s Liberty Bank landmark bid moves to next step

  1. The building may have historical significance, but it is fugly. How about a commemorative plaque to mark the history to be placed on whatever better looking edifice replaces it?

    • I like this idea. Seriously, I have no faith in the Landmarks board if a hideous single-story suburban-style bank gets saved when the beautiful classical Melrose building (next to Bauhaus) was destroyed.

      • This won’t be designated a landmark. This Board is totally pro developer.

        Buildings denied in the neighborhood in the last few years:

        1) Melrose building

        2) Pinevue apartments

        3) Mixed use building at 12th and Pike

        4) Victor Hugo House

        5) Yellow Victorian at 18th and Denny (and Victorian neighbor)

        6) Weatherford house

        7) Ruth Court Apartments (18th and John)

        One that should have been nominated was at 13th and Mercer which vanished with out a peep.

        the ONY thing on the hill I can think of that has been designated is the Anhalt apartments at 16th and John. These folks systematically shoot down anything that comes before them. Why even have them?

  2. This is not a good candidate for preservation. I hope despite the hyperbole of Mr. Garrett, the designation is not approved. Since an unprovoked attack on Paul Schell, hitting in the face with a bullhorn, Omari Garrett does not deserve our attention. More recently he threatened the SPD with armed resistance and explosives if they tried to enter the building he was illegally occupying.

  3. Here, here. The rub is Garrett. Anything he is associated with becomes a tragedy for his own people. The building IS fugly, despite the history. The question is, what will play more? The structure, the history, or the politics? Hopefully the history, because the looks of the building are not outstanding, despite it being in good shape after all these years. And the man behind the plan will surely try to bully/becomes a permanent headache any other entity that comes near it or tries to do something else, even if that entity is also black. Good luck Landmark designators, Garrett will force your hand just as he did with SPS/Banda. Just don’t cave when he starts crying racism.