As Red Apple comes down, Vulcan’s 23rd and Jackson moves forward

The walls of the old Red Apple and the Promenade 23 shopping center have come tumbling down. There is more change underway in the Central District.

Demolition began last week on the south lot of the Jackson and 23rd shopping center being redeveloped by Seattle’s Vulcan Real Estate into a set of two seven-story buildings that will create more than 500 new homes at this key neighborhood intersection.

Vulcan has a way with timing. The demolition comes two years to the month after the Paul Allen-backed firm best known for reshaping South Lake Union told CHS it was acquiring the six acres of Central District commercial property for $30.9 million. The company has said it doesn’t have plans to redevelop its holding on the north side of Jackson where Starbucks and Walgreens are part of a cluster of big-chain commercial businesses. But on the south side of Jackson, it is a different story.


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Following demolition, contractors will dig in on building the Hewitt and Runberg Architecture Group designed complex, creating two seven-story buildings with a combined 532 apartments and a whopping 44,000 square feet of commercial space “for a grocery store and micro-, small- and medium-sized local shops and services.” Below ground, there will be room for 550 cars to park.

“The project is envisioned as a vibrant, community-oriented mixed-use development that reflects the Central Area’s unique heritage and culture,” the Vulcan description reads. “The development also incorporates a large landscaped plaza, a mid-block connection and community amenities.”

Those more than 500 new homes are part of the new push of new housing construction across Capitol Hill and the Central District that, due to their large scale, may — or may not — be contributing to a suddenly dry pipeline of projects in the early review phase. Another relative mega project — four buildings set to rise starting later this year around Capitol Hill Station — will create more than 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space on Broadway by early 2020.

As the city moves forward toward mandatory housing affordability requirements, Vulcan will utilize a longer running program to make some of the new 23rd and Jackson housing available to a greater diversity of income levels, too.

The developer plans to use the Multifamily Tax Exemption to make 20% of the 23 and Jackson units affordable. Around 107 of the 532 units are planned to be made available to renters earning 65% to 90% of the area’s average median income. “We need to have affordable housing that would be more at the low income range of the AMI—anywhere from 60% and below would really work to help keep a lot of the black residents here,” Evelyn Thomas Alan, founder of the Black Community Impact Alliance, told CHS about the area’s needs when we talked to her about the project and Vulcan’s plans in 2016.

This week, as the wreckage of the old Red Apple is torn away, the block is also being shaped to include a major grocery store in the mix of development set to rise above the old Promenade 23. Projects like Shelf Life captured some of the community’s stories before the teardown. Others are being wiped away.

Construction is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.

For more about Vulcan’s project and construction updates, check out 23jackson.com.

UPDATE: A group of artists that originally targeted Paul Allen’s Upstream Music Fest is calling on Vulcan to pursue equitable development at 23rd and Jackson including dedicating 25% of the Promenade 23 property to a community land trust. Meanwhile, the Vanishing Seattle effort has listed the roster of “businesses (mostly small and Black- & immigrant-owned) that were displaced/relocated” from the shopping center:

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The businesses (mostly small and Black- & immigrant-owned) that were displaced/relocated from #ThePromenade on 23rd & Jackson, which is now being demo’d for #redevelopment by #Vulcan/#PaulAllen. These included Toure Apparel, Red Apple, Frank’s Barbershop, Nafkote Travel Agency, East African Imports & Restaurant, Styles on 23rd, Red Sea Financial, The Bicycling Store, Boost Mobile, Taco Del Mar, Subway. Plus food storage space for the Central Area Food Bank, the immigrant-serving nonprofit Multimedia Resources & Training Institute, & the City Of Seattle’s Central Service Center. Meanwhile community members & artists have been calling on the developer for dialogue & action around equitable #development so longstanding artists, residents & small biz can still remain & thrive in the neighborhood. #promenade23 #promenadeseattle #thecd #centraldistrict #demolition #cerrado #gentrification #displacement #pocseattle #blackseattle #immigrantseattle #blackbusinessesmatter #allyoublackfolksyoumustgo #seattlelife #seattle #vanishingseattle @seattleaced @shelf_life_stories

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14 thoughts on “As Red Apple comes down, Vulcan’s 23rd and Jackson moves forward

  1. I am going to miss the Red Apple. They had products that you couldn’t find on Capitol Hill. Oh well, I guess I will have to travel to White Center or the Rainier Valley/Beacon Hill for some of the products I used to buy there.

  2. Vulcan avoided putting any long term (50 year) affordable units under HALA MHA. MFTE units can be pulled at any time. MHA units would have been affordable at 60% AMI or below…

    • Great deal for developers. If I understand correctly, 20% of their units available at reduced rents for households making 60-90% of avg income, and they avoid property taxes on the *whole building* for 12 years. Is that correct?

      In other somewhat-related news, 2018 Seattle property tax assessments will be sent out next month, and the avg tax bill will be up 18%. That’s probably something around $1000 on the avg Seattle home. So over the last 3 yrs property taxes will have gone up by about 30-33%. Probably more for most parts of Capitol Hill and some of the Central District.

    • Hi Jim and Bill. Not quite correct. As I understand it, the MFTE program is an annual program (i.e. the building owner needs to re-up each year and then its good for a year).

      To qualify, 20-25% of the units in the building need to be designated MFTE—the lower number applies if the building provides two-bedrooms or larger, the higher number if the building only provides one-bedrooms and smaller. Rents are based on the size of the apartment, with the smallest being pegged at 40–50% AMI and working upwards as the apartments get larger.

      I do not understand exactly how the different AMI rates apply, but it appears to be tied to the sizes of the apartments made available (i.e. if only small studios, the 40% AMI kicks in, but it two-bedrooms are available the studios could be rented at 50% AMI). I would suggest checking out the Office of Housing site for more info

    • Thanks for that clarification Dang. That makes more sense. (Which is why I wouldn’t ecessariky assume our City Council or Mayor’s Office came up with it). People have been commenting on the lack of condo conversions. These tax abatements are probably another factor (among other reasons) why we see so few conversions.

  3. It would sure give the community peace of mind if Vulcan were able to announce they had secured a grocery store, and in the meantime had found a better solution for groceries within walking distance than the junk food (and once a week meager offerings of produce) at Walgreens. Also, hope they can complete the project quicker than 2.5 years!

  4. My name is Keith Oliver and I remember 23rd before Promenade! No one asked for light rail, or and other amenities that has changed the Central District from home to Rome!!! You can’t even drive down 23rd anymore and turn where you want to and it’s stupid. Leave things alone and keep it pushing!!!

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