Black church puts $4.5M plan to exit 23rd and Union into motion

The exodus of a Black church from its Central District home is moving forward. The Mount Calvary Christian Center has put its third of an acre property home to its house of worship at 23rd and Union on the market for $4.5 million.

“Rare opportunity for land in the Central District commercial corridor. Zoned NC2P-75, this site allows for mixed use opportunities not easily found in this high demand neighborhood with vast amounts of pedestrian access,” the description from the Bascomb Real Estate Group listing reads. “Subject consists of two parcels and provides an opportunity for a full range of expansive projects with the value in the land; bring your investors, architects & builders, and take advantage of having a presence in the heart of the city. Buyer to verify land use requirements.”

The move follows what seemed like only a first step in the congregation’s plans to exit the neighborhood when it put its teen center property across the street on the market for $2.8 million this winter.

“We’re still very much a part of the community, and we’re going to be there for a while,” Nicole Bascomb of Bascomb Real Estate Group and a member of Mount Calvary told CHS at the time.

With the teen center property still on the market, Bascomb could be correct that the church will remain for a long time but the new listing shows that the future is coming quickly for the congregation and the neighborhood.

The church has said opportunities for growth and the move of many of its African American members to the south were driving the decision to sell now. Pastor Reggie Witherspoon was also nominated this year as bishop for the church’s jurisdiction.

The Christian center has tangled with neighboring pot shop Uncle Ike’s in the past. In 2014, Witherspoon led a “Shut It Down” prayer rally against Ian Eisenberg’s first Uncle Ike’s and eventually took Eisenberg to court before making peace — and an advertising deal for billboard signs for the pot shop on the teen center property.

Meanwhile, three of the four corners of 23rd and Union have been redeveloped and the fourth is about to be demolished so construction can begin on Midtown: Public Square, a project planned to create a set of seven-story apartment buildings with 429 apartment units and a new Bartell’s as an anchor retail tenant. Lake Union Partners also has developed The East Union building next to the teen center land where a New Seasons grocery market will soon open.

While many of the changes at the corner have added to the whittling down of the neighborhood’s Black community, there are other signs of hope. The inclusively developed and affordable Liberty Bank Building opened at 24th and Union in March. And Africatown is readying its plans for collaborating on another affordable mixed-use project on the south end of the Midtown block.

Could a similar project rise where Mount Calvary stands today? That $4.5 million question has yet to be answered.


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18 thoughts on “Black church puts $4.5M plan to exit 23rd and Union into motion

  1. For all the development that has occurred on 23rd/Union over the last decade, I’d argue that the sale of this church is the first to actually “whittle” down the African American community.

    • This church is all about money…Selling the church too a person like ike…..They selling out to the white man..C.D is being destroyed by greed and Gentrification..Seattle is definitely dying at the hands of bad policy made to heart the African American community in the Central District. I will celebrate the day Uncle ikes no longer exist on that block.

  2. “Uncle Ike’s and eventually took Eisenberg to court before making peace — and an advertising deal for billboard signs for the pot shop on the teen center property.”

    How was peace made? I suspect the church wanted money. This harassment seemed to be extortion driven. Let’s not forget the anti-Semitic incidents that occurred. Did Witherspoon and his congregation ever comment on that?

    • Yeah, I’ll lay down good $$ that most of the $7-plus million they’re asking for the two properties WON’T go to feed the starving, shelter or clothe the homeless, or bring aid and comfort to the sick and dying – like their namesake admonished his followers to do. Instead, they’ll most likely spend it on more property, and an edifice to their make-believe deity – and perhaps a new Mercedes Benz for the Goodly Pastor Witherspoon.

      • You’re absolutely right that pastor is all about greed and being flashy. Brand new zoot suits and a brand new Cadillac or Mercedes while the church folk’s struggling To make ends meet and provide for they family..God don’t like ugly judgement day is coming .

  3. “Uncle Ike’s and eventually took Eisenberg to court before making peace — and an advertising deal for billboard signs for the pot shop on the teen center property.

    Eisenberg should be ashamed of himself, selling weed in an area where youth members are currently in jail for smoking the very product he sells. Please leave the Central District.

      • CS, if you’re familiar with Mr. Witherspoon then you’d prolly know that’s not too far from the truth… There are reasons why it’s been commented on here twice and racism isn’t one of them.

        Anyway, wish the best for congregation and hope the windfall from these sales helps find them a great new location that can better serve the church’s community.

  4. This is a sad day.

    The CD sucks. Pushing black people out to build another extension of Ballard and Capitol Hill.

    Not only gentrifying and racist, but BORING. The city is DYING. RIP Seattle.

    • Kyle, care to elaborate how the development around 23rd/union is racist?

      Also, I’m sure the people who just moved into the new Liberty Building would love to hear your thoughts on how this building, which has several dedications to the neighborhood’s African American heritage, is “BORING”

    • Racism defined: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

      Kyle, can you elaborate on what specifically is racist about this church listing their property for sale?

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