With increased call for community say in redevelopment, mayor helps kick off Umoja Fest with ribbon-cutting at 23rd and Union

Mayor Durkan joined K. Wyking Garrett of the Africatown Community Land Trust at a Saturday ribbon-cutting (Image: City of Seattle)

Mayor Jenny Durkan joined with Africatown for the official ribbon cutting on the Imagine Africatown Pop Up Plaza and Art Installation to kick off Saturday’s 2018 Umoja Fest parade march in the Central District:

The Imagine Africatown Pop Up Plaza and art installation is located at Midtown Center on 23rd and Union, a longtime hub for African American small businesses that is slated to be demolished for redevelopment in 2019.

“Before the existing Midtown Center meets its fate with the wrecking ball, we are partnering to transform the site into a vibrant community activation space to host a wide range of events and activities aligned with the rich African American and African diaspora heritage of the neighborhood,” landscape designer and project lead designer Sara Zewde said. “The goal is to capture the community ideas about the potential for the future development at 23rd and Union, including space for gathering, Black and African diaspora identity, culture and Black-owned businesses.” Continue reading

Midtown design looks too much like SoLU, not enough like the CD — Can new Central Area Design Review Board help?

Public comment and the East Design Review Board aligned Wednesday night in agreement that the latest designs for the proposed redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center did not meet expectations for recognizing the history and the culture of African Americans and Black Seattle at 23rd and Union.

The “portals” that open to the street from Midtown: Public Plaza are still not open enough to foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood and to support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside — the building needs to do more than utilize masonry to recognize African American-style architecture from the neighborhood — the design needs more “Afro-centric” colors and patterns and, as currently designed, looks too “South Lake Union” — features like the open plazas and a proposed video screen installation to showcase local arts and history need to have more fleshed out programming plans — a proposal to keep costs down on the three building development with connecting skywalks and fewer elevators and stairs needs more thought — and more.

They also agreed on something else.

The review board covering neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Montlake, and First Hill wasn’t necessarily the best body to make the decision.

“How is the Central Area design team not looking at this?,” one speaker asked during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s night’s review, the final stage for the project in the city’s public design process. She also stated the obvious — each member of the design board Wednesday night was white. Continue reading

Africatown gets $1M+ boost from Seattle’s first Equitable Development grants

Africatown has been awarded a major grant as part of more than $5 million in funding for equitable development in Seattle.

“Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the grants. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity within Seattle’s most underserved communities.”

Africatown will receive $1,075,000 for “capacity-building” and “development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project,” according to the City of Seattle announcement of the award. Continue reading

At least one person shot as gunfire rattles Central District’s Midtown Center

(Image: @sdottraffic)

At least one person was shot in the leg and bullet casings were found spread across the intersection after a volley of gunfire from a vehicle that quickly sped away from 23rd and Spring Tuesday night.

Police and Seattle Fire rushed to the area just before 6:40 PM after multiple reports of shots fired on a night when most of the booms reported to 911 are fireworks. Continue reading

At Midtown Center, community hopes for Central District culture in redevelopment’s design

23rd and Union

The Central Area Land Use Review Committee hosted a meeting last week for developers and neighbors to discuss the ongoing Midtown Center project at 23rd and Union with the community. And while the meeting was ostensibly focused on the design of the project, neighbors and advocates at the meeting reminded developers of the block’s importance in the African American community’s past — and future — in Seattle.

The community meeting was a preview for an upcoming design review meeting that will take place July 18th at Seattle University that could be the project’s final step in the review process for the much watched development:

Design review: 2301 E Union

The project moved forward in the design process in January as many community members said they hoped to see more thought given to design that highlighted the corner’s place in African American culture in the city. Continue reading

Rise and shine: Raised Doughnuts now open in the Central District

Mi Kim

If the test run was any indication, mornings are going to be a little brighter and more delicious on 23rd Ave starting Saturday.

Raised Doughnuts, transformed from the old Collins Gold Exchange and mini-mart at 23rd Ave and Spring, officially opens this weekend with raspberry holes, maple bars, apple fritters, sugared mochi, and good ol’ plain glazed doughnuts for its new Central District neighbors.

“The community right away was embracing us,” I-Miun Liu, a prolific Seattle food and drink entrepreneur and business partner in the project tells CHS. Liu said the opening was eased by advice and help from “businesses in the neighborhood who have come by and supported us.” Continue reading

Community meeting will give early look at final designs for Midtown Center redevelopment

Don’t worry — this is only the massing concept for the four-piece apartment building being shaped for the Midtown block

In July, the long awaited redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center will finally take its last step in the design review process. But first, Wednesday night, neighbors will get a preview of the final plans as the Central Area Land Use Review Committee community group hosts representatives from developer Lake Union Partners and architect Weinstein A+U for an open meeting to discuss the latest designs:

Midtown Center Design Community Meeting

Continue reading

Victim says thousands ripped off in 23rd and Union mugging

(Image: @sdottraffic)

Seattle Police are investigating a mugging at 23rd and Union Wednesday night that reportedly netted a group of three thieves thousands in cash.

Officers were called to the southeast corner of the intersection at the Midtown Center shopping center around 9:15 PM to a report that a group of three males was seen pushing another person to the ground before fleeing in a vehicle last seen headed south.

Police found a man who appeared to have suffered a serious knock to the back of his head and who told police he had just been mugged of $4,600 in cash, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.

Police were searching for a vehicle described as a tan or beige four-door sedan and the three suspects. Police did not have specific descriptions of the suspects and there was no indication of why the victim was carrying so much cash in the SPD report on the incident.

Seattle Fire was called to the scene to treat the victim’s injuries.

Earl’s Cuts — and, maybe, some legendary eats — set for new home in Liberty Bank Building

(Image: Earl’s Cuts and Styles)

At its annual fundraiser last week, Capitol Hill Housing announced some news about its Liberty Bank Building project at 24th and Union that hits right at the heart of the “inclusive” development.

Ready to be displaced by redevelopment of its longtime Midtown Center home, Earl’s Cuts and Styles will be moving into the Liberty Bank development, leaving its former home of 26 years on the corner of 23rd and Union.

Earl Lancaster, the Earl in Earl’s Cuts and Styles, is ultimately optimistic about the move. “I never thought I would have to move, but change is good,” he said. “The neighborhood is changing quicker than we would know, but I’m happy to be a part of it and continue to have a footprint in the central district, which is where I grew up at.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | A New Seasons opening in Ballard ripples into the Central District

Here is a preview of 23rd and Union sometime in 2019 when the neighborhood’s newest grocery store, New Seasons, is slated to open in The East Union mixed-use development.

Protesters targeted the grand opening of the Portland-based chain’s new Ballard store Wednesday with a list of anti-labor, union-unfriendly grievances:

Employees say corporate managers retaliated against Portland workers who spoke up about working conditions, even hiring a notorious Trump Hotel union-buster to intimidate and silence them.

Continue reading