Police investigating gunfire at 23rd and Union car wash

Police are investigating after a burst of gunfire at a 23rd Ave car wash reportedly targeted a woman who fled in terror inside a nearby business to escape Saturday afternoon, according to police radio dispatches.

We have not yet confirmed details with police but East Precinct radio reported several units converging at Uncle Ike’s car wash just north of 23rd and Union after a bout of gunfire was reported just before 1:30 PM.

The victim was uninjured, according to radio reports.

Police were searching for a green Camaro carrying two men reportedly involved in the shooting. A car matching that description was stopped about two miles south of the shooting scene and one person was detained but we do not yet know if police have connected him to the shooting.

Central District artist’s sculpture will be part of 23rd/Union redevelopment

James Washington, Jr. (Image courtesy James & Janie Washington Foundation)

A work by an important Central District African American artist will be restored in the midst of coming redevelopment set to reshape the corner of 23rd and Union.

The James and Janie Washington Foundation, a museum and art gallery to commemorate and preserve the work of James Washington Jr, announced the planned restoration of the “Fountain of Triumph” sculpture that has called the MidTown shopping center home since the 1990s.

The sculpture will temporarily move from MidTown to the foundation’s property on 26th Avenue and Denny so the Pratt Fine Arts center can restore it. When the sculpture returns to its original location, it will be part of a major new mixed-use development that will partner a for-profit developer with affordable housing and community nonprofits including Africatown.

James Washington Jr., an African American writer and artist, created “The Fountain of Triumph” in the late 1990s. He passed away in 2000 at 90 years old. Meant to be a community meeting place and focal point for unity in an ever-changing neighborhood, the sculpture will stay true to Washington Jr.’s original intent as it gets restored and placed in Africatown.

“We’re so pleased that LUP is helping to restore and return this meaningful sculpture to its original location,” said Washington Foundation board president Reverend LaVerne Hall in the announcement of the project. “We’re thrilled it will be returning it to its former glory.” Continue reading

Plans for Africatown Plaza rise at 23rd and Union

Garrett, center, with Forterra’s Michelle Connor and Chris Persons of Capitol Hill Housing (Image: Africatown Plaza)

The newly formed Africatown Community Land Trust entered an agreement with Capitol Hill Housing and Lake Union Partners, the Seattle development company that bought the Midtown Center block in May. The announcement cements the project surrounding Lake Union’s $23.25 million deal to purchase the Central District shopping center land.

UPDATEWe have updated this information to correct an error regarding ownership of the site.

“We’re working to maintain fertile ground where a Black community that has been here for over 130 years can grow and thrive in place, K. Wyking Garrett, president of the land trust, said in an announcement of the agreements. Continue reading

Grocer New Seasons coming to the Central District at 23rd and Union

Another domino has finally clicked into place in the massive grocery cart shuffle game playing out in major developments across Capitol Hill and the Central District. As expected, Portland-based New Seasons has announced it will, indeed, be anchoring the Lake Union Partners-backed project on the northwest corner of 23rd and Union.

“The Central District is such a wonderful neighborhood, rich in history and culture. We are honored to join and serve this community,” New Seasons CEO Wendy Collie said in an announcement on the project Friday morning. “As a neighborhood grocer, we pride ourselves on creating gathering places that honor and reflect the culture of their communities, where everyone feels welcome to share delicious food, enjoy conversation and connect with one another.”

New Seasons is also interested in holding down the anchor grocer slot in the development projects set to arise around Capitol Hill Station. The grocer planned to open its first Seattle location in Ballard this year. Labor groups have opposed the company’s expansion to Seattle citing “an anti-union climate” at the company. Continue reading

Police search unsuccessful after woman robbed on 24th Ave

Police are investigating a reported armed robbery after a woman was mugged and thrown to the pavement on the backside of the Midtown Center commercial block at 23rd and Union Tuesday night.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, the suspect grabbed the victim and claimed to have a gun pressed against her as he shoved the woman down and stole her wallet on 24th Ave just after 10:30 PM Tuesday.

Police spread out across the area and a K9 unit searched for the suspect described as a black male around 5’6″ and heavyset, wearing a white tank top, and dark jean shorts, last seen fleeing the area on foot to the east.

The search was not successful and there were no arrests. No serious injuries were reported.

CHS Crime Dashboard — Reported robberies by month — East Precinct (Source: SPD)

With a rise in gun incidents and shootings across the city, robberies are down so far this summer in the East Precinct and the area around the Midtown Center has seen fewer incidents of gun violence after a spike earlier this year.

In May, developers announced a $23.25 million deal to acquire the Midtown block for long-planned redevelopment.

Finally, a $23.25M deal — and plans for inclusive development — at 23rd and Union

It is a riskier bet than most $23.25 million land deals in Seattle. But new neighbors and longtime community members are probably happy to see real progress. Africatown, again in partnership with sustainability nonprofit turned in-city housing developer Forterra, will still be part of inclusive development component in the deal. And the buyers seem to know what they are doing.

Lake Union Partners announced Tuesday that it is surging ahead with a plan to redevelop 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center block and has already closed on a purchase of the land — a riskier approach than national shopping center developer Regency Centers and its partner Lennar were apparently willing to take in their failed deal to acquire the property and build a grocery-focused project.

“Given our other investments at 23rd and Union, we’ve worked hard to connect well with the neighborhood and as always, we simply try to do good work with our design, be respectful of the community, and create projects with neighborhood retail that residents of the area need and want,” Patrick Foley of Lake Union Partners said in the announcement. Continue reading

Another ugly incident at 23rd and Union

A protest against displacement and in support of Africatown’s efforts at 23rd and Union devolved into a fight between activists and security at an area business Saturday — and a video from an ugly exchange in the midst of the confrontation has drawn sharp rebuke.

Police were called to the intersection Saturday afternoon after activists who had been part of an anti-displacement “Mini Block Party” at Midtown Center crossed the street and challenged security seeking to keep protesters off the frequently targeted property at Uncle Ike’s, the legal pot shop that has been a regular target of those opposed to both what they say is the I-502 cannabis industry’s non-inclusive system and concerns about gentrification in the rapidly developing neighborhood.

One protester was reportedly treated for facial injuries by Seattle Fire after the fight. Police said that the groups were separated around 4 PM.

But an exchange in the aftermath of the fight recorded by Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg in which activist and recently evicted block resident Omari Garrett tells the Jewish business owner to “go back to Germany” and “let those Nazis get on you again” has outraged many and forced developers working in the neighborhood and partnering with Africatown — run by Garrett’s son K. Wyking Garrett — to try to distance themselves from the situation. Continue reading

Big bust raises tensions at Midtown Center

As neighbors living around 23rd and Union concerned about gun violence met at Seattle University for a community crime meeting to discuss recent shootings, a major law enforcement operation including reports of flash bang explosives went down in a tension-filled Midtown Center Thursday night.

Multiple people were taken into custody during the incident first reported to CHS around 7:30 PM Thursday after the operation was well underway.

A Seattle Police spokesperson said Friday morning he was looking into the situation and could not provide details of the arrests and SPD’s possible involvement. UPDATE 3:40 PM: SPD has posted a report on the arrest of a 27-year-old man wanted in connection with a shooting incident Monday night: Continue reading

Protest against displacement at 23rd and Union targets landowner’s Madrona home, sparks scuffle at Uncle Ike’s

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

A protest against gentrification and displacement in the Central District that followed the eviction of a longtime neighborhood activist from his 24th and Spring home showed just how personal the tumult around change can be as the Madrona home of a 23rd and Union property owner was targeted — and the owner of a controversial marijuana store momentarily lost his cool Saturday night.

Protesters Saturday night gathered at 23rd and Union outside the office space where the Black business incubator Black Dot is being booted from the teed-up-for-redevelopment Midtown Center. The protest was a planned response after the eviction of Omari Tahir-Garret from the block earlier in the week. The rally and march eventually traveled all the way to Madrona where protesters said they were targeting the home of Hugh Bangasser, head of the family partnership that owns the Midtown Center and is planning to sell the property for redevelopment.

But the sparks flew late in the night after the march returned to 23rd and Union and organizer Cliff Cawthon brought the group to the parking lot of “gentrifier” Uncle Ike’s where the I-502 pot shop was once again surrounded by a mix of protesters, Seattle Police, and Ike’s security employees. Continue reading

Standoff at 24th and Spring in eviction of longtime Central District activist

A longtime Central District resident whose activism for Black rights has often put him at odds with law enforcement and the legal system sparked a protest and a standoff Wednesday morning at 24th and Spring as the King County Sheriff, Seattle Police, and a work crew arrived to evict him and his UMOJA Peace Center from the Midtown Center block.

Omari Tahir-Garrett, who is in his 70s, was reportedly barricaded inside the house where he has lived for around a decade while working as a caretaker for the property owned by the Bangasser family who is now trying to sell the land for long-awaited redevelopment. UPDATE 2:15 PM: Authorities have determined that Tahir-Garrett is not inside the house. A protest organizer says Tahir-Garrett is “safe” and not in custody.

UPDATE 3/16/2017 8:53 AM: Police say they responded to the corner Thursday morning to help “a man trapped inside a boarded house.” We’re checking to find out more. According to police radio dispatches, SPD officers entered the house around 8 AM after being called to the scene to a report of somebody trapped inside. The person was “removed from the property” around 15 minutes later.

DSC01265UPDATE 3/16/17 2:15 PM: In an appearance outside his boarded house and flanked by City Council member Kshama SawantOmari Tahir-Garrett and organizers of the two days of protests against his eviction at 24th and Spring said they will rally again on Saturday for inclusive development with a march starting at 23rd and Union. Continue reading