23rd and Jackson’s MHA-ready Community House project set for final review phase

(Image: Environmental Works)

The first Central District development project planned to align with the city’s coming Mandatory Housing Affordability program will move to the second and final phase of the city’s design review process Wednesday night.

CHS first wrote about the Community House project at 22nd and Jackson in November 2016 but the development was expanded to add a second adjacent building the following spring and arrives now in front of the East Design Review Board with a plan for a combined 128 units of low income and affordable housing above a new Community House Mental Health Agency facility and street level retail:

Design review: 2212 S Jackson

The project from Community House, Ally Community Development, and the architects at Capitol Hill-based Environmental Works is being designed under the framework of an expected upzoning of the area to allow 75-foot buildings under the MHA program. Under MHA, the 75 units planned for the seven-story building in the project will be available to tenants making 60% or less of the area median income. The 53 units planned to rise above the new upgraded Community House facility in the six-story building will be used to house Community House clients. Continue reading

Man charged in string of fake FBI agent robberies including $130K rip-off in Central District

The man the FBI says impersonated one of their agents and robbed a Central District business of nearly $130,000 has been arrested and charged, officials announced Friday.

Steven W. Fisher, 43, has been charged with attempted robbery, robbery, and five counts of impersonating a federal officer, according to the announcement from the Western District of Washington’s U.S. Attorney.

In a January robbery reported on by CHS at the time, investigators say Fisher claimed to be a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent investigating a suspicious transaction at 23rd and Jackson’s Red Sea Finance.

According to the SPD report on the incident, a worker at the “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

Community market stand small part of patching big hole with 23rd and Jackson Red Apple closure

(Image: Clean Greens)

When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure.

“They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.”

Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after.

Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization. The purchase of seeds, the lease, and payment for their farm manager, Tommie Willis, comes from money raised through the CSA program, which runs from July to October. Continue reading

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 shelflifestories.com.

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