CHS Pics | Earl’s Cuts and Styles making temporary move before new life in Liberty Bank Building

It’s almost moving day for Earl Lancaster

After nearly 30 years of business, Earl’s Cuts and Styles won’t be cutting hair in the Midtown Center at 23rd and Union after this weekend. But its new home across the way in the Liberty Bank Building isn’t ready for the legendary barbershop just yet.

After Saturday’s final day of business in its original home, Earl’s is moving across the street to a temporary shop in The Central building. Earl Lancaster said he hopes the stay will be short and that he should be in his new shop in the Liberty Bank Building by the end of March. Continue reading

Lost in progress at Midtown Center: a 23rd and Union small business and a Central District post office

(Image: CHS)

As much as some neighbors may be looking forward to the demolition of the old Midtown Center shopping strip at 23rd and Union, the end isn’t much to celebrate. You can feel the missing systematic safety net for Seattle’s small businesses as one small shop owner struggles to sort out what comes next. Other changes will be inconvenient and, for some, further evidence that Seattle — and the Central District — is tossing aside community elements as it reaches for continued growth and development.

“Please help me. Please don’t forget about me,” Saad Ali pleads. The owner of the 99 Cents Plus store in the now mostly vacant shopping center is happy to finally hear from a journalist. Attention from Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has helped, he says, but it hasn’t helped him find a new place to move his store or any opportunities for grants or financial assistance to weather the change. More useful, he says, has been recent conversations with a few officials from City Hall who are looking into ways to help Ali move.

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‘Community interest’ — Newly formed Central Area Board will have say on Midtown: Public Square

A key Central District project to create a set of seven-story mixed buildings at 23rd and Union is ready to finish off 2018 Wednesday night with what many hope is the final step in a multi-year design review process spanning two different developers.

An important group will be on hand to see the process through.

The City of Seattle’s Department of Construction & Inspections tells CHS that the members of the newly created Central Area Design Review Board will be part of the December 19th review joining the East Review Board that has been overseeing the process since the first look at a project from a previous developer in early 2017.

Design Review: 2301 E Union

“Based on community interest, the East Board has agreed to incorporate members of the newly created Central Area Board into the recommendation process for this proposal,” a city rep tells CHS. “While the permit application was vested to the previous design review board district boundaries, the property owner has voluntarily agreed to incorporate members of the Central Area Board into the discussion and recommendation process.” 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

$82.5K grant will help Africatown continue Midtown Center art and activation project

Kids set about painting Midtown Center this summer as part of the Africatown art project (Image: CHS)

Central District community organization Africatown will receive a $82,500 grant from the city to continue its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.

The grant was part of some $900,000 in funding awarded across the city announced Wednesday through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Neighborhood Matching Fund. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Africatown art project shows ‘what’s possible’ in the Central District

The Central District’s Midtown Center got a new paint job over the weekend as hundreds of volunteers came together, brushes and rollers in hand, to paint a massive mural to demonstrate what the neighborhood could look like before the property is redeveloped in 2019.

“What we’re doing is trying to make a statement in the last few months of this property, to talk about history and the potential future of the neighborhood,” said Sara Zewde, a past Africatown board member. “The future redevelopment retail should incubate small, black-owned businesses from this neighborhood and we’re going to demonstrate the potential for that in this market space.” 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 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

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

Midtown Center redevelopment moves forward in design review process

A rendering of the planned, mostly public plaza (Image: Weinstein A+U)

The East Design Review Board Wednesday night gave its blessing to the early plans for redevelopment of the Midtown Center at 23rd and Union. The decision moves the project forward to the next phase in the process with hopes for better connections to the Africatown Plaza project that will neighbor it and a better approach to connecting the development’s massive internal plaza to the area’s surrounding community.

In a packed meeting room at Seattle University, community members who spoke during the public comments portion of the night’s proceedings expressed general support for the project but many said they hoped to see more thought given to design that highlighted the corner’s place in African American culture in the city.


The future view from Cal Anderson… will need more work

Broadway Bonney-Watson development kicked forward… barely
Meanwhile on Broadway… Public comments and the board were mostly in agreement Wednesday night — the Modera Broadway project won’t need a third pass in the early phase of the design review process but it will need a lot more work before the project gets by the board. Avoiding a relatively rare third “early design guidance” review, the board required an extra hour of deliberation as it asked developer Mill Creek Residential and Weber Thompson to do even more to activate the street level design along Nagle and connect the project to Cal Anderson, ultimately deciding three votes to two that the plans were close enough at this point to advance… like we said, barely. You can check out more on the “live/work unit”-heavy design proposal signed-off on Wednesday night here.


“Street life is the most important identifying characteristic,” one public speaker said about the corner, saying she was worried the design by Weinstein A+U architects is “taking all the life and energy to the internal courtyard.” “It’s not going to be a space that generates energy itself,” she said. Another described the early massing for the project as “Eurocentric” and “very linear.” Continue reading