Africatown celebrates first ever Central District Winter Arts and Soul Fest

1 (4)As plans move forward for creating a new Central Area Arts District to celebrate the area as a hub for black art, business, and community, one of the groups looking to help preserve and grow the area’s economic and cultural assets will hold the first edition of what it hopes will become an annual event.

The first Africatown Central District Winter Arts and Soul Fest is underway:

Friday, Nov. 27th

  • Black Friday Concert & Marketplace featuring Owuor Arunga & Friends. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S. Market Place opens at 12 noon. Doors for concert open at 6:30pm.

Saturday, Nov. 28th

  • Africatown Small Business Saturday Marketplace at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S.

  • Opening of Black Dot Cultural Innovation Space @ Midtown Center, 1160 23rd Ave

  • 4th Annual Dancehall Reunion Bash @ Eritrean Hall, 1954 S. Massachusetts St.

Continue reading

A 30-resident ‘tiny house’ encampment is rising at 22nd and Union

“We really want to get people into these houses with the idea that they will transition into permanent housing.”

A new homeless encampment featuring 15 “tiny homes” is getting underway on a church-owned property at 22nd and E Union. So far, the new encampment has one house ready to go, put up in September and built by a group of teenagers working with the nonprofit Sawhorse Revolution. The two-person homes don’t have much in the way of amenities, but they are waterproof and lockable, two major benefits over tent living.

The empty lot owned by the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd had recently been used as parking lot for construction workers during the week and overflow church parking on weekends. From 2013-2014, the church hosted a Nickelsville camp on the empty lot. That camp, and two others in the Central District were all built as a result of the closure of the longtime Nickelsville camp on Marginal Way.

The Central District tiny house village is the result of a broad collaboration of organizations, lead by the Low Income Housing Institute and the Nickelsville community. Several organizations, including Sawhorse, are building the 15 two-person capacity houses out of their own pockets. Each house costs roughly $2,200 in materials.

“We really want to get people into these houses with the idea that they will transition into permanent housing,” said Monica Joe, who’s helping organize the project from the LIHI. Continue reading

Mayor announces plan for Central District arts district

The mayor’s office announced this week that the draft ordinance to create the new Central District arts is moving forward.

“The Central Area is has made enormous contributions to Seattle’s cultural identity, from the music of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement announcing the legislation. “The neighborhood’s arts heritage is felt far beyond our city boundaries. This designation honors our history and nurtures the Central Area arts community for the next generation.”

CHS reported on the new initiative earlier this month as groups including Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, the Northwest African American Museum,Africatown, and the Seattle Black Arts Alliance held a community meeting to help give shape to the new district.

“We don’t want to just become a museum. We don’t want to be erased. We do want to preserve that legacy and stimulate more interest in how the CD can become more of a hub for black art and culture,” Vivian Phillips, director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theater Group told CHS.

The Central District has been a hub for black art, business, and community. Following months of discussion and organizing among Central District African American arts advocates, the designation legislation is planned to begin its path through City Hall in December.

In November of 2014, Capitol Hill became the city’s first arts district, lead by Capitol Hill Housing and the Capitol Hill Chamber. The designation comes with a $50,000 dollar grant, in addition to a “Creative Placemaking Toolkit,” which includes of a number of mechanisms and programs that can be implemented.

“The Central Area is a center of African-American heritage and history, as well as a neighborhood undergoing rapid change,” the city’s announcement of the new initiative reads. “The Arts District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to preserve its character, while stimulating a growing arts environment in the Central Area.”


Teen struck in leg in E Cherry shooting

A male in his 20s teenager was shot in the leg Thursday night in an exchange of gunfire on E Cherry.

Police were called to the area after multiple reports of gunfire near the Garfield Community Center around 10 PM. Officers searched the area and found at least one shell casing but no victims.

UPDATE 11/20/2015 11:28 AM: SPD says the victim in the shooting is a 16-year-old:

A 16-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting Thursday in the Central District. Witnesses called 911 around 10 PM and reported hearing gunfire near 23rd Avenue and E. Cherry Street. When police arrived, they learned three young men reportedly targeted in the shooting had run from the scene. According to witnesses, the gunman had fled in a burgundy Ford Mustang. As officers were searching the scene for evidence a 16-year-old boy limped toward officers and showed them he had a gunshot wound to his ankle. Police called for medics, who transported the teen to Harborview Medical Center. SPD Gang Unit detectives are investigating the incident.

Around 10:20 PM, a male victim approached an officer near 24th and Cherry to report his injury, according to East Precinct radio.

Seattle Fire was called to the scene to treat the victim.

After a summer of gunfire incidents in Central Seattle, federal authorities have been working with SPD to crackdown on firearm-related crime in the area. Thursday, the FBI announced nine people had been taken into custody in a law enforcement operation focused on guns and drugs in the area around 23rd and Union.

Federal agents, SPD arrest 9 in CD drug and firearm investigation

A team of federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested nine people Wednesday following an investigation into firearms and narcotics dealing around 23rd and E Union.

According to the FBI’s Seattle division, investigators identified a hierarchy of narcotics distributors operating around 23rd and Union, which led them to a house near Beacon Hill Elementary School. At the house, the task force recovered cocaine, around $22,000 in cash, and an assault rifle.

The operation was a combined effort of the FBI Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, ATF Puget Sound Crime Gun Taskforce, and the Seattle Police Department. The FBI says the investigation is ongoing as law enforcement agencies continue to identify individuals involved.

FBI spokesperson Ayn Dietrich-Williams told CHS those arrested were not necessarily detained at 23rd and Union. “It was all pretty fluid,” she said. The FBI provided the following list of those arrested in the operation: Continue reading

911 | Man and child hit by vehicle on Jackson, SFD battles E Columbia fire

Open flames on the roof of our neighbor's house. Terrifying. #housefire #seattle #centraldistrict

A photo posted by Andy Pixel (@andypixel) on

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • 20th/Jackson driver hits pedestrians: A man and a child were seriously injured Sunday night after they were struck by a driver on S Jackson at 20th Ave S. Seattle Fire was called to the scene around 7:34 PM. The adult male and boy were reported in serious condition when they were transported from the scene. Police are investigating the collision. UPDATE 11/16/2015 2:45 PM: SPD tells us that the injuries in the collision were fortunately limited to abrasions on the 5-year-old boy. The adult male’s injuries were categorized as non-life threatening. Police say the driver “failed to yield” as the two were crossing Jackson at the intersection and will be cited for the collision.
  • Thanks to a reader for sharing this picture from the scene

    Thanks to a reader for sharing this picture from the scene

    E Columbia fire: Seattle Fire battled a blaze in the attic of a two-story house in the 1700 block of E Columbia Sunday night. The fire was first reported around 10:15 PM. Fire crews arrived to find flames coming from the building’s roof and began to battle the blaze in the attic living space. The fire was reported under control by just after 10:40 PM as firefighters continued to extinguish any remaining hotspots. We do not have any information regarding injuries. The fire marshal was called to the scene to investigate the cause of the fire. UPDATE: A SFD spokesperson said the fire was determined to have been caused by a “failed chimney” that “allowed hot embers to reach the attic structure.”

A hub for black art, business, and community, CD planned as Seattle arts district

Following Capitol Hill’s designation in 2014, the Central District is being planned as Seattle’s second official Cultural Arts District.

The push for a Central Area arts district stems from organizing efforts between a collection of cultural institutions, community members, and black artists, all hoping to both preserve and nurture the artistic and cultural legacy of Seattle’s historically African American neighborhood as the neighborhood changes and gentrifies amidst the citywide development boom and influx of new residents. The designation backers will be holding an open house this weekend to engage with the public on the designation.

“Particularly in light of all the change that is happening in the central area, this is a moment for us to pool our efforts and make this happen,” said Vivian Phillips, a lifetime Central District resident, director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theater Group and current co-chair of the coalition pushing for the designation.

The public meeting is hoped to help define “the scope of our work both short term and long term,” Phillips said.

Following months of discussion and organizing among Central District African American arts advocates, the designation legislation is planned to begin its path through City Hall in December. Continue reading

What happens when your crowdfunded neighborhood bakery has to find another neighborhood?

Pocket Bakery won’t be opening in the Central District anytime soon. Josh Grunig, the baker behind the bakery said he would still love to open a retail location in the area, but financial realities have forced him to alter his plans from a year ago.

“Maybe I was a little naive, but I also try to be as optimistic as possible,” Grunig said.

He had been operating Pocket Bakery as a pop-up in Magpie, a toy and clothes shop on 20th and Union with plans to open his own retail location in a new building near 23rd and Union. He explored bank loans but ended up raising about $25,000 from crowdsourcing. He has about 100 participants in the loan program, about a third of whom were from the neighborhood, he said.

But $25,000 doesn’t even come close to funding the startup costs for a retail bakery. Building out the dining space alone can run into the six figures, and then there’s still the kitchen. After his fundraiser finished, he found his would-be landlord was not as optimistic as he about his plans to come up with the capital.

“Literally, a week after that was done, they offered the space to someone else who was fully funded,” Grunig said. Continue reading

Seattle loses out on federal cash to expand bike share

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-11.16.17-PMThe Seattle Department of Transportation has lost out on a federal TIGER grant that would have allowed the system operated by Pronto Cycle Share to expand into many more neighborhoods, including Ballard and West Seattle.

The Seattle Bike Blog reports the feds passed up the opportunity to back the Seattle proposal requesting $25 million in federal funds to help fill the $15 million funding gap in the Northgate bike/walk bridge project and to improve connectivity to transit by investing $10 million in a dramatically expanded bike share system.

The city would have matched this with $5 million of its own, while Pronto’s private operator Motivate would pitch in $3 million. With the TIGER grant, the system could have added 250 stations.

Only 14% of Seattle residents currently live within close walking distance of a bike share station. Under the expansion plan, 62% of residents would live within reach.

Earlier this month, SDOT officials told CHS that even if they lost out on the grant they would move forward with plans to take over the system with an eye on a more modest expansion in 2017. Continue reading

Seven Beef turning quartered cows into a longterm investment in steak on E Jefferson

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“I like the fact that we’re going all the way.”

Aging beef is a difficult science but you have to be an artist to persevere. Air flow, temperature, humidity, all conspire to ruin the meat, take a prized, grass-fed cow’s life in vain.

A troubled meat artist is now hard at work on E Jefferson where bandsaws have joined the kitchen knives. Eric Banh and sister Sophie, the creators of upscale and downscale Vietnamese projects Monsoon and Ba Bar, have finally opened Seven Beef, their huge, year-delayed, steak-focused, “whole animal” restaurant. Aging is, indeed, difficult.

“This is a young person’s game,” Eric Banh tells CHS. “You have to lug big portions of a cow. Very physical. I like the fact that we’re going all the way.” Continue reading