With vision for ‘African American communities and spaces of the future,’ Africatown Plaza will be next to take shape in the Central District

The coming Africatown Plaza at Midtown

23rd and Union’s Africatown mural (Image: Africatown)

Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound.

The event follows a major development in the Central District with the opening of the Liberty Bank Building and comes as the early design process for Africatown Plaza at Midtown, another fully affordable development around the 23rd and Union core, is about to begin.

“Overall, working to make sure that we still have a heart and soul and a place of unity and community,” the Africatown Community Land Trust’s K. Wyking Garrett said Saturday, before giving a shout out to last weekend’s Umoja Fest Parade, a Central Area staple since the 1940s. He wants Africatown, however, to be more than just these major celebrations, but places “where we can experience Black culture, Black music, Black culinary genius from throughout the diaspora.” Continue reading

With a vision for affordability beyond the neighborhood, Capitol Hill Housing won’t just be Capitol Hill Housing much longer

Developed in conjunction with Africatown, The Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place, Capitol Hill Housing’s Liberty Bank Building opened in March

By Tim Kukes for CHS

Capitol Hill Housing held its annual meeting Tuesday at the 12th Avenue Arts building, one of several projects across Seattle created by the nonprofit developer of affordable housing.  Members of the organization gave status reports on the successes of the past year and discussed some of the challenges they were facing.  But, CEO Chris Persons did what in journalism is called “burying the lede”.

“We’re coming up with a new name,” Persons said, late in the meeting.  “Think about our name, Capitol Hill Housing, neither of those really represent what we do as an organization, so it is time after 40 years to select a different name.”

What was discussed prior to the announcement Tuesday morning illustrates the need for a new name and rebranding of the organization.  As the leadership spoke it became clear that the message was that CHH was more than in the business for providing affordable housing and its scope was beyond Capitol Hill.

As Persons put it, “Building beyond buildings.” 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

Community Forum: Own It! Prevent Displacement, Build Wealth

Join us Thursday, May 25th at 5:30 PM at the Summit (420 E Pike) for Own It, the 2017 edition of Capitol Hill Housing’s annual community forum. This year we are focusing on a single issue: how to build wealth in our neighborhoods and close the widening inequality gap in our communities.

Own It will explore real-world models of building income and wealth for individuals, small businesses and communities, which we believe will help build a more vibrant and engaged city. Experts will share examples of ownership that can work, or are already working, in Seattle. Below is a brief outline of our engaging speakers and topics.

  • Local Ownership and Asset Building: Jaebadiah Gardner, Onpoint Real Estate
  • Community Investment Trusts: Sven Gatchev, Mercy Corps Northwest
  • Equity for Artists: Sam Farrazaino, Equinox Studios
  • Community Land Trusts: Melora Hiller, Grounded Solutions Network

Food and drink will be provided. The event is free and open to the public, but we ask you register in advance. RSVP at bit.ly/CHHOwnIt17

Can’t make it? Follow along online at #OwnItSEA.

Renter Summit seeks to build tenant power on Capitol Hill

13925584_1033358373447357_8610625736069031429_oRenters make up roughly 80% of Capitol Hill residents but organizers of an upcoming summit say most are left out of crucial public policy decisions. In an effort to kickstart a renter power movement in Seattle, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict is holding its first Capitol Hill Renter Summit September 24th.

“It’s about giving the silent majority of the neighborhood a voice,” said EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak.

The summit will feature issue briefings followed by breakout discussion groups. Leading up to the event, EcoDistrict organizers reached out to renters on Capitol Hill to head the discussions. Mayor Ed Murray will give an opening address, and House Speaker Frank Chopp and State Senator Jamie Pederson will join other local elected officials for a live Q&A session.

Sisolak hopes the summit will inspire a pipeline of building ambassadors that will see themselves as the rightful advocates for a crucial segment of Seattle’s population. “The renters summit is more of a launch than an endpoint,” he said.

You can RSVP for the free event here. The first 50 people to sign up get a free “renter power” t-shirt. Continue reading

$2.65M deal for affordable housing site puts Capitol Hill Station development in motion — UPDATE

Early concept of the development coming to "Site B North"

Early concept of the development coming to “Site B North”

Sound Transit is finally ready to sell off the first of five properties surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station that will transform Broadway and serve as a new gateway to Capitol Hill.

The board is expected to approve the $2.65 million sale (PDF) of Site B-North to developer Gerding Edlen during its Thursday afternoon meeting. The Portland-based developer previously selected Capitol Hill Housing to develop and own an 86-unit affordable housing project on the site, which runs along 10th Ave between John and Denny Way.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): Sound Transit board members approved the Site B-North sale agreement during their Thursday afternoon meeting. Despite a Sound Transit staffer reminding the board the action was “a very, very big deal,” the approval was rather unceremonious as one member had to be pulled in from the hallway to make a quorum for the quick vote. There was no board discussion of the measure.

“The Capitol Hill community has repeatedly and strongly expressed its desire for affordable housing,” said Brie Gyncild, co-chair of the Capitol Hill Champion community group. “We need truly affordable housing as soon as possible and we near it near the light rail station.”


(Image: Gerding Edlen)

According to Gerding’s winning proposal, half of Site B-North’s units will be restricted to households making no more than 30% of the area median income. The other half will be made affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI. A quarter of the units will have two or three bedrooms. Initial plans call for a community center and a daycare, as well as a rooftop deck and computer lab.

The $2.65 million price tag for the “transit oriented development” “Site B North” comes just under Sound Transit’s estimated price last year. A substantial percentage of the proceeds will go towards paying back federal transportation grants that were secured for the project.

In August, the board is expected to approve land leases for three other sites so Gerding Edlen can move forward with its plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial, housing, and community space. Seattle Central College has been given a right of first refusal to develop a fifth parcel, Site D, due to the site’s location directly next to the school’s Broadway promenade.  Continue reading

Omnivorous 2016

The best way to enjoy Capitol Hill’s finest restaurants and support affordable housing on the Hill. Join us on September 29th for Omnivorous – an exciting and eclectic annual fundraising event hosted by Capitol Hill Housing! Now in its 6th year, the evening features more than a dozen local chefs, restaranteurs, bartenders, distillers and roasters of Capitol Hill showcasing their culinary creations. Enjoy an array of fabulous food and drink by some of Capitol Hill’s best – all under one roof, for just one night!

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Unlimited plates of delicious delicacies
  • Superb Northwest wines and specialty cocktails
  • An opportunity to help connect your neighbors to jobs, healthcare, and other services

This year’s participants include: BaBar, Bakery Nouveau, Bar Ferdinand, Chavez, Gnocchi Bar, Hello Robin, High 5 Pie, Lionhead, Mamnoon, Plum Bistro, Poppy, Quinn’s, Rumba, Single Shot, Tallulah’s, Tango, Terra Plata, The Tin Table, and more!

All proceeds from the event will go towards supporting Capitol Hill Housing’s work to build supportive communities for our residents.



Renters: Capitol Hill’s silent majority is organizing

100 “building ambassadors” needed for Capitol Hill renter summit in September

Since renters on Capitol Hill are transient and apathetic to city affairs, their concerns are less worthy of consideration when crafting public policy — or so the theory goes.

The message is one that Capitol Hill EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak says is internalized by many renters, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of disengagement. A new organizing effort by the neighborhood sustainability organization is trying to change that.

Capitol Hill Renter Initiative seeks to amplify the mostly dormant voices of Capitol Hill renters and insert their priorities into the city’s ongoing housing policy debates. Rather than fight back against some developer-homeowner agenda, Sisolak said the EcoDistrict wants to encourage renter identity as a way into local politics.

“We’re really interested in getting renters into the public process,” Sisolak said. “That includes neighborhood discussions around land use and affordability” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Arts District gets a push with ideas for promotion, preservation — and helping artists make rent

Tuesday's panel (Image: Capitol Hill Housing)

Tuesday’s panel included, from the left, Matthew Richter (City of Seattle), Tonya Lockyer (Velocity Dance), Jason Plourde (Three Dollar Bill Cinema), Seth Garrison ‘Mo-Wave!), Cathryn Vandenbrink (ArtsSpace USA), and Lesley Bain (Frameworks). SIFF’s Carl Spence was also part of the talk but had to run to make a 7 PM screening at the nearby Egyptian.
You can weigh in here on the question “What do you want the Capitol Hill Arts District to accomplish?
(Image: Capitol Hill Housing)

Over the past few years, the heart of Capitol Hill’s art scene has experienced a near-constant barrage of development. Where once was cheap studio space, there is now a mixed-use apartment building with $1,500 studio apartments. Where once was a stage, there is… well, a mixed-use apartment building with $1,500 studio apartments. Anyway, you get the idea. The City of Seattle — perhaps late in the game — has decided to start figuring out how to keep Capitol Hill the art epicenter of the city. Ideas on how to do it were pushed further ahead at Tuesday night’s annual Capitol Hill Housing forum.

The Capitol Hill Arts District is still just an idea. City Council member Nick Licata said it is up to the community to pressure government to act. “Every mayor I have talked to has said it is a good idea,” Licata said Tuesday night. “But they never got around to establishing it.”

Continue reading







Seattle’s Black community worked hard and pulled together to build its own bank in 1960s.
They bought their own land, designed their own building, laid their own bricks, and began to thrive.
The WA state government killed Liberty Bank and gave its land to Key Bank as a gift in the 1980s.

Key Bank made out like bandits in the recent securitized foreclosure land grab.

Then they pulled their banking services out of the Africatown Central District last year.

Now, they want to profit by liquidating the Liberty Bank building in a back door real estate sale.



At the Landmark Hearing for the Historic Liberty Bank Site

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 – 3:30 p.m.

Seattle Municipal Tower
700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor – Rm 4060

The bank was unanimously nominated for designation at the February hearing but this is the hearing for designation and more support is needed. The community is encouraged to send comments of support and come out and support to: Erin Doherty at erin.doherty@seattle.gov