Capitol Hill Housing will honor history of Central District development site with Liberty Bank Building

libertybankinterior11-300x294 (2)Capitol Hill Housing has announced it plans to honor the history of Liberty Bank by naming its planned development just east of 23rd and Union for the region’s first Black-owned bank.

In an announcement earlier this week, the nonprofit developer said its planned mixed-use, affordable apartment project at 24th and E Union will be called the Liberty Bank Building and will “feature multiple historical elements in the exterior design” as part of a set of recommendations from an advisory board convened by the developer “to learn more about community priorities for the site.”

“It is important that the story of Liberty Bank is told so that Seattle knows how a multicultural community came together and created an institution that allowed individuals to achieve economic independence and success,” Michelle Purnell Hepburn, daughter of Liberty Bank founders James C. and Mardine Purnell, said in the announcement. “The advisory board is very happy with the outcome of this process and is pleased with the work of Capitol Hill Housing.”

Liberty Bank Advisory Board members (L-R): Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, Derryl Durden, Merle Richlen, and Jocquelyn Duncan at the celebration on March 4th (Image: Joshua Okrent for CHH)

Liberty Bank Advisory Board members (L-R): Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, Derryl Durden, Merle Richlen, and Jocquelyn Duncan at the celebration on March 4th (Image: Joshua Okrent for CHH)

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.22.20 AMThe Capitol Hill Housing announcement said additional recommendations include “creating interpretive signage for tenants and visitors to experience, integrating the Liberty Bank logo into the building signage, reusing the existing brick exterior on portions of the new building, utilizing the bank vault door and safety deposit box number plates, and prominently displaying historic photographs in the building interior.

“The affordable housing crisis in Seattle is as evident in the Central District as it is anywhere in the city,” said Christopher Persons, CEO of the nonprofit developer. “Capitol Hill Housing is committed to developing more affordable homes in this community and we are honored to have the support and advice of the Liberty Bank Advisory Board.”

In March 2014, CHS reported on the decision by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board rejecting the 1968-built bank as a protected landmark despite community support from Purnell Hepburn and others. The decision cleared the way for the Capitol Hill Housing development at the site to move forward. Liberty Bank operated at the site until 1988 when KeyBank took over. CHH had agreed to acquire the property from KeyBank in 2013 “at a rate well below its assessed market value, in order to develop a mixed-use building with affordable apartments and space for local businesses.” Capitol Hill Housing says it expects “to apply for public funding for the development in 2015” with a plan to begin construction on the project in 2016.

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