Open house: Shelf Life project tells stories of those who live and love the Central District

A group of artists — “photographers, artists, librarians, historians, filmmakers, youth media educators, and youth media makers” — has turned a former sandwich shop next to the Red Apple at 23rd and Jackson into a “community story booth.”

Shelf Life: Open House

Sunday, Shelf Life will hold an open house to show some of the stories collected and share some new ones in an ongoing project to record the lives of the people who call the Central District home:

Shelf Life is a community story project motivated by the rapid change taking place in Seattle’s Central Area neighborhood. We are gathering and sharing the stories of the people who live and work in the Central Area; stories about the neighborhood, its history, its struggles, its innovation, the change it is now experiencing, and how residents are impacted by that change.

In 2016, Vulcan paid $30.9 million for the shopping center land around 23rd and Jackson with plans for a mixed-use, multi-family 570-unit development. A wave of development along the 23rd Ave corridor makes the Shelf Life project even more poignant. At 23rd and Union, efforts at moving forward with projects focused on “inclusive development” are stalled at Midtown Center but moving full speed ahead at the Liberty Bank building project.

The 23rd and Jackson Shelf Life project continues through June with more events and presentations planned through the duration. Eventually, the project powered by King County’s 4 Culture and partners including developer Vulcan and the neighboring Red Apple grocery store will be archived by the Seattle Public Library. To learn more and see some of the stories collected by the project, check out

Police investigate 23rd/Jackson shopping center shootout

A hail of bullets struck the shopping center building home to AutoZone and other businesses near 23rd and Jackson Thursday just after noon. There were no reported injuries.

Police say gang detectives are investigating the incident in which witnesses described a crowd of people running from gunfire through the center’s parking lot.

Police found damage to the building and bullet fragments strewn across the area near the auto parts store on the north end of the shopping center’s parking lot across from the 23rd and Jackson Starbucks.

The gunfire was heard by police in the area just before 12:15 PM, according to East Precinct radio.

Police were searching for at least one vehicle seen leaving the area following the shooting. Police were also looking for at least one possible victim who appeared to have been hit by the gunfire but no victims were found in the area or at nearby hospitals.

Police: Fake FBI agent rips off nearly $130k in 23rd/Jackson robbery

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-1-01-07-pmA gunman wearing a suit who passed himself off as an FBI agent walked out of a 23rd and Jackson business with nearly $130,000 in cash in a heist pulled off last Wednesday night.

According to the SPD report on the incident, a worker at the unidentified “bank/savings and loan” was closing up for the night around 7 PM when the suspect knocked on a metal security gate, showed a badge, and said he was “FBI.” Once he was let in past the security gate, the phony agent told the worker he had conducted a “bad transaction” and asked to see the records for the day. “(The victim) pulled up his transaction record on the computer as S1 looked on,” the report reads. Continue reading

Seattle Fish Guys carry Pike Place connection to 23rd and Jackson market and raw bar

We started watching the Seattle Fish Guys pull together their plan for a Central District fish market and raw bar at 23rd and Jackson in March. In the meantime, some seismic scale-level changes have rolled through their neighborhood — Vulcan is now their landlord neighbor and there’s a plan in motion for a massive redevelopment across the street.

Owner Sal Panelo and manager Ian Tanaka are fish mongers, expert at selecting and preparing the freshest Pacific Northwest seafood. They didn’t know about Vulcan’s plans but they did know more people are about to call 23rd and Jackson home. Continue reading

Vulcan eyes tax breaks to include affordable housing at 23rd and Jackson

Vulcan's 23rd and Jackson project will go in front of the design board for the first time on May 10th

Vulcan’s 23rd and Jackson project will go in front of the design board for the first time on May 10th

Vulcan’s $30.9 million acquisition at 23rd and Jackson is seen as a bellwether for development and increased gentrification set to continue its march across the Central District. It may, indeed, be a significant representative — but that doesn’t mean the development will be purely market-driven. The real estate giant plans to use a tax break to help create affordable housing in the new development that replaces the Promenade 23 shopping center. But a plan to create what could be even more significant requirements for affordable housing in Seattle developments isn’t yet part of the plan at 23rd and Jackson.

Instead, Vulcan is proposing to use Seattle’s affordable housing incentive program, the Multifamily Tax Exemption, to make 20% of its units affordable. That would include some true family housing (two and three bedroom units), but that could change.

In a statement, the developer described the affordable element of its planned development to CHS:

Vulcan’s proposed development project at 23rd & Jackson will contain 566 units that will contribute to the mayor’s goal for 30,000 new market rate and 20,000 new affordable housing units in the next 10 years. We have planned the development under existing zoning and are electing to participate in the MFTE program. Under our current design we will produce approximately 113 affordable units including 49 units affordable to households earning 65% of Area Median Income ($41,145 for single person, $58,695 for family of 4).

A new ordinance proposed by Mayor Ed Murray would require all projects in certain areas of the city like Vulcan’s to either include “five to eight percent of units as affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years” — or pay the city to build affordable housing elsewhere. Continue reading

Done deal: Vulcan pays $30.9M for 6 acres at 23rd and Jackson

Earlier this month, Vulcan began the process of community outreach as it moved forward with plans for a 570-unit, mixed-use development on the southeast corner of 23rd and Jackson. Wednesday, it sealed the deal.

The Seattle real estate giant announced it has paid $30,900,000 to acquire the Promenade 23 shopping center and the commercial area surrounding Starbucks across the street.

“We are excited to introduce housing to this very prominent intersection in the Central Area,” said Ada M. Healey, vice president of real estate for Vulcan said in the announcement. “We care greatly about preserving the authentic characteristics of the neighborhood while developing a project that that aligns with the community’s priorities.”

Vulcan is planning for the review process to wrap up by September with construction starting by June of 2017. Construction is expected to last about two years. The June timing would put the project into motion around the planned groundbreaking of the second phase of the 23rd Ave corridor improvements currently causing smaller merchants headaches around 23rd and Cherry. Jackson, meanwhile, has also been envisioned for pedestrian and safety improvements.

The company said it is not currently planning to redevelop the parcel on the north side of Jackson where Starbucks and Walgreens are part of a cluster of big-chain commercial businesses.

In its announcement, Vulcan said it plans to utilize Seattle’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, “reserving 20 percent of the project’s units for workforce housing with a range of price points starting at 65 percent of Area Median Income.” Under the program, developers receive an up-to-12-year break on property taxes on their buildings — but not the land. The results mean under-market rents should be maintained for at least 12 years. A developer may leave the program after notifying the city but assumes “responsibility for any additional taxes, interest, and penalty imposed pursuant to State law.”

The deal represents a nice flip for Weingarten Realty — it acquired the property about five years ago for $18.4 million.

UPDATE: The acquisition also treads atop a history of failed ambitions at the corner:

Aspirations for the Promenade 23 shopping center at 23rd and Jackson once included a two-block development complete with sky bridge. This vision was lead by a young Jimmy Sumler, who owned the property along with his father in the 50s and 60s, according to George Staggers of the Central Area Development Association (CADA). Today, the shopping center may not have a sky bridge, but it is an economic hub of the Central District. It is also on the verge of being sold to Weingarten Realty Investors, a large real estate investment trust based out of Houston, Texas.

Neighborhood development watchers, meanwhile, also have their eyes on Midtown Center at 23rd and Union where a deal is expected to be announced soon.

The full announcement is below. Continue reading

Vulcan shares an early view of the redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson — UPDATE

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By Ross Armstrong, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

Community members packed the Seattle Central Wood Technology Center Thursday night (Image: Ross Armstrong)

Community members packed the Seattle Central Wood Technology Center Thursday night (Image: Ross Armstrong)

Vulcan’s plans for the southeast corner of 23rd and Jackson appear to be on a fast track following a set of community meetings in the Central District last week. The developer said it is gearing up for a design review process from a project with some 570 apartment units to begin — perhaps — as early as next month. Meanwhile, attendees at one of the community meetings unsurprisingly expressed concerns about the real estate giant’s development plans and the rapid change coming to the area.

UPDATE 2/17/2016 5:30 PM: The deal is done:

Vulcan Real Estate today announced it has purchased two retail properties at 23rd & Jackson from Weingarten Realty. The property includes approximately six acres on the north and south sides of South Jackson Street, on the east side of 23rd Avenue South. The purchase price is $30.9 million.

Central District residents turned out in droves Thursday night to see early design concepts for a new apartment complex in the neighborhood from Vulcan and Runberg Architecture Group. Much of the community focus was on affordability and whether the project’s planned mix of units was right for the neighborhood. One mother spoke up about her two sons who had decent paying jobs but had to move away due to the costs.
Plans submitted to the city describe a complex of two five-story buildings and two seven-story buildings, interconnected around a courtyard. In all 570 units are planned in the 693,000 square-foot project. The project does not yet appear on the Design Review Board schedule but Vulcan representatives said they plan to begin the public process in March. Continue reading

In the Central District, big real estate deals moving forward along 23rd Ave

It has been seven months since the Midtown Center in the Central District was put on the market last summer, and, as of right now, the hot piece of real estate is still for sale — though a deal is looming.

For now, both the realtors and community stakeholders are mostly mum about the status of the bidding and sale process. Jason Rosauer, vice president and partner at Kidder Matthews, the agency working on the sale, declined to comment, while co-realtor and investment sales specialist Rob Anderson told CHS that “one or two” potential buyers have been identified. “We identified a couple of very strong buyers who have a high level of interest,” said Anderson. “It’s just a matter of working through the process.”

Further south at Jackson and 23rd, Vulcan, the Paul Allen-backed real estate investment company, is eyeing property at the intersection for development and is apparently ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. In December, CHS reported that the company had entered in an “evaluation agreement” for 6 acres on both sides of S Jackson. Next month, Vulcan is holding an open house to meet with the community about the deal: Continue reading

Police investigating DUI after high-speed crash at 23rd/Jackson


Four people were taken to the hospital with what Seattle Fire described as only minor injuries after a high-speed crash involving five three vehicles near 23rd and Jackson Wednesday night just before 7 PM.

According to a witness, one vehicle in the crash was traveling around 85 miles per hour on Jackson near the busy shopping area before colliding with the other cars. SPD sent an investigator to the hospital to evaluate the driver of one of the vehicles for impairment. UPDATE: SPD says that 36-year-old male driver remains hospitalized with serious injuries. The crash remains under investigation but SPD says speed and impairment appear to have been factors in the incident.

Police had the street closed to traffic for hours Wednesday night as investigators documented the scene.

Thanks to Otmane Bezzaz for the photographs of the aftermath.

No Walmart, but developer plans to split Red Apple Market property at 23rd and Jackson

A vision of a pedestrianized 23rd and Jackson

A vision of a redeveloped, “pedestrian zone”-friendly 23rd and Jackson

Long-expected redevelopment plans around 23rd and Jackson appear to be getting underway as the area’s biggest landowner has applied to break up one of the corner’s two major properties.

Weingarten Realty is seeking to subdivide its Red Apple Market property into three parcels, though the existing supermarket building is slated to remain standing, according to city permit records. The subdivision will allow the property owner greater flexibility to secure retailers, a Weingarten spokesperson told CHS.

“We believe this subdivision will help us preserve and enhance long term value for the property as we continue to weigh the different options to eventually remodel or redevelop the property.” said Weingarten’s Carrie Murray.

Subdividing the plot comes as welcome news to groups like the Central Area Land Use Committee, which have been advocating for smaller-scale development around 23rd and Jackson. Continue reading