Midtown: Public Square shaping up with hopes ranging from My Sweet Lil Cakes to Bartell’s

Midtown: Public Square’s design still needs a few more tweaks

With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.

Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.

December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District. Continue reading

Liberty Bank Building: vision of equitable development, great views of the CD

A ceremony to celebrate a financial boost to its vision of inclusive development also provided en opportunity for an early tour of the nearly completed Liberty Bank Building Monday in the Central District.

“I’m a product of the Bronx, New York. Raised in Baltimore. Used to having a lot of diversity in our lives. Coming to the Pacific Northwest, I was stunned and a little lonely for a while,” Regina Glenn said Monday inside the under construction building. “Coming to this project it reminds me of that pulling together that we had.” Continue reading

Midtown design conversations to look for ‘community opportunities’ at 23rd and Union

The future of 23rd and Union won’t look like this — exactly. The Midtown Center development on the southeast corner is set to return with an updated design from this rendering in December

What is hoped to be the final step in the design review process for the redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center is slated for December but the companies and groups working on the project are holding two community “conversations” this week to meet with neighbors about the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment building with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles.

Developer Lake Union Partners is hosting a set of meetings — one Wednesday night and one Saturday — to “explore community opportunities at the Midtown project site” —

Midtown Block: Community Design Conversation

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Tacos Chukis joins growing family of food and drink around 23rd and Union

That guy up top? That’s Beto Salmeron. He just opened his fourth Tacos Chukis — the largest yet — in the Central District.

CHS told you all about the new 23d and Union taco joint here as it prepared to open last week. Here’s a look inside the Graham Baba-designed restaurant. Continue reading

Tacos Chukis ready to go big in Central District at 23rd and Union

Broadway-born Tacos Chukis has a new headquarters but the neighbors around 23rd and Union are probably more interested in the grilled pineapple and adobada.

The latest expansion of the small Seattle chain including its new central kitchen is set to open Saturday in the Central District.

“This will be our central base and supply our other restaurants,” owner Beto Salmeron tells CHS about the biggest Tacos Chukis yet. Continue reading

Process begins for the end of the Central District’s Midtown Center as we know it

(Image: Forterra)

Change set to split the community around 23rd and Union among those who consider it a central part of the neighborhood’s social fabric and those who will be happy to see it go is finally coming. Preliminary paperwork has been filed for the demolition of Midtown Center.

The six demolition permit applications filed October 4th aren’t anywhere near approval from the City of Seattle but the paperwork is yet another reminder that the corner is set for its latest and biggest transformation yet.

The permits cover the existing and still operating commercial buildings in the center as well as the empty residential structures on the block and the small cafe in the middle of the parking lot. “Commercial bldg. (The small café). I don’t know the address, perhaps 2301 23rd Ave,” the application for that demolition reads. Continue reading

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