Last spring, change dug in at 23rd and Union as work finally began on a long-planned, six-story apartment and retail project on the intersection’s southwest corner. Now, change at the corner is rising higher. A developer already busy in the Central District is doubling down on redeveloping the blocks around the intersection with a $4.1 million-plus purchase of land currently home to a gas station and Cappy’s Gym.
Permits detail Lake Union Partners plans to build a 160,000 square-foot,146-unit apartment building with underground parking for 120 vehicles on the site.
“There’s an artistic feeling in the neighborhood,” Lake Union principal Patrick Foley told the Puget Sound Business Journal about the deal. “This feels a lot like what Capitol Hill did 25 years ago. It has been a tough neighborhood and we are excited to be part of the change.” Foley told the PSBJ the developers plan to apply for a rezone to build to 65 feet above where the gas station and gym stand today. He also said some nice things about the community of E Union businesses that have grown around longtimers like CHS advertiser Central Cinema.
Of course, the PSBJ also called 23rd and Union “cursed.” Once part of a notorious criminal drug market, more recent incidents like the 2013 arson fire that destroyed and ended Med Mix’s run in the neighborhood have been often painful reminders of inequity — “Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Seattle now has the ninth lowest income for black households,” the Seattle Times dutifully reports — and bursts along a relentless, sometimes meandering, march of change — “Many of the people who used to live in the Central District have moved to the south towns or the edge of the city where they can get more house more affordably. It’s simple economics,” former Mount Zion Pastor Leslie Braxton tells the Times.
In the near future, you will be less likely to be looking back at the corner and more likely to be looking up. The planned extra height of the latest project will probably fit right in. At the intersection’s southeast corner, CHS has reported on longtime landowner Tom Bangasser’s hopes to rezone and redevelop the block currently home to his Midtown Center and a collection of businesses including the liquor store, a future smaller post office and a newly opened sandwich shop.
Across the street, real estate investor and business owner Ian Eisenberg has created a mini-marijuana retail campus though has his work is cut out in a legal fight with the church that neighbors his pot shop on one side of 23rd and, on the other side of 23rd, will eventually find its teen center existing adjacent to the newly planned 65-foot building replacing the Union 76 gas station. Lake Union Partners is also developing the four-story Stencil apartment project at 24th and Union while Capitol Hill Housing will build affordable apartments above where the old Liberty Bank building — believed to be the region’s first Black-owned bank — now stands.