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

Seattle sorting out how to pay for expansion of drug diversion program beyond Capitol Hill

Transitioning the emphasis from arrest to treatment and services when it comes to addiction, mental illness, and homelessness is slowly changing policing and the city’s connections to its streets in downtown and parts of Capitol Hill. The hopes to expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion to the rest of the East Precinct now hinges on the process underway at City Hall to shape Seattle’s 2018 budget.

Tracy Gillespie, who handles LEAD’s East Precinct referrals, and LEAD’s operations advisor Najja Morris said the program’s biggest hurdle is funding, year after year. The program needs more case managers. Their hope is to expand throughout Seattle by 2019, which Morris said would require around $4 million. Right now, LEAD is lined up for $1 million out of the city budget.

The program has been working in Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct — Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Little Saigon — since last year. But it’s been Capitol Hill centric because the program rolled out to SPD’s bicycle officers, who focus on the Hill, and not patrol officers in cars. Now, LEAD is working toward CD and Saigon expansion.

“It’s been really great to see a different demographic come into the program,” said Gillespie. “They tend to be younger, but a lot of them have aged out of the teen and young adult services, so they’re in between being a young person and being an adult.”

But there is uncertainty about how much funding will be available for the initiative in coming years. Continue reading

23rd and Jackson’s MHA-ready Community House project set for final review phase

(Image: Environmental Works)

The first Central District development project planned to align with the city’s coming Mandatory Housing Affordability program will move to the second and final phase of the city’s design review process Wednesday night.

CHS first wrote about the Community House project at 22nd and Jackson in November 2016 but the development was expanded to add a second adjacent building the following spring and arrives now in front of the East Design Review Board with a plan for a combined 128 units of low income and affordable housing above a new Community House Mental Health Agency facility and street level retail:

Design review: 2212 S Jackson

The project from Community House, Ally Community Development, and the architects at Capitol Hill-based Environmental Works is being designed under the framework of an expected upzoning of the area to allow 75-foot buildings under the MHA program. Under MHA, the 75 units planned for the seven-story building in the project will be available to tenants making 60% or less of the area median income. The 53 units planned to rise above the new upgraded Community House facility in the six-story building will be used to house Community House clients. Continue reading

Why neighbors are complaining about this Central District taco truck

(Image: Taqueria Sotelo)

Central District real estate investor and entrepreneur Ian Eisenberg has sounded the alarm — Taqueria Sotelo could lose its longtime home on E Union because of a complaint to the city.

The technical issue, according to Eisenberg, has to do with pedestrian zones and vehicular zones as marked in property plans. Eisenberg said there have also been complaints the Taqueria Sotelo food truck he’s let park on his 21st and Union property is aesthetically unappealing.

We are working to talk with the owner of the Taqueria Sotelo truck to learn more.

City of Seattle permit and complaint records show the property was also subject to a complaint in late October about advertising signage that went up on the old service station property a few blocks from Eisenberg’s Uncle Ike’s pot shop. “The 2 pole signs and 1 wall sign advertising Uncle Ike’s require permit(s) & inspections or removal,” the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections complaint entry reads. Continue reading

23rd and Union development update: Notes on Africatown Plaza, Liberty Bank, and East Union’s New Seasons grocery

As developers snag every available piece of land in the booming real estate market of Central Seattle, African American community members demand a seat at the table when it comes to who fills the future Africatown portion of Midtown development at 23rd and Union. How do you address the concerns of a diverse community while understanding the history of the land the development is being built on? By meeting, bringing those voices together, and giving them a chance to express their concerns and desires for positive change.

Africatown is holding “Central Community Development Update” sessions to create a forum.

”We want to use this as a catalyst to build a database and organize and build capacity, so future projects can have greater participation,” Wyking Garrett said, addressing the Thursday evening crowd at the October update.

Garrett brought together a wide variety of voices at a meeting hosted by Africatown and held at the Casey Family Program near 23rd and Union. Garrett, a community organizer and head of the nonprofit Africatown, brought together developers and community members to give updates and discuss issues regarding continuing development of the Liberty Bank property, Midtown Center, and East Union. It was a packed meeting room, with over 75 people representing the community and unions.

Here are some of the night’s topics of discussion:

Liberty Bank Building
Crews planned to begin pouring concrete footings last week. Jill Fleming spoke on behalf of Capitol Hill Housing. She talked about possible outcomes of the Memorandum Of Understanding focusing on securing long term African American ownership in the community. The investors have a 15-year term, when that is up the nonprofit owner has the opportunity to purchase the building. In 15 years, Africatown will be able to step into that role. Part of the MOU is that they will prioritize minority and local subcontractors. CHH is working with Walsh construction out of Oregon. They currently have 30% women and minority subcontractors with 17% being African American subcontractors. The ground floor along Union will be retail with the corner space being a negotiated with a restaurant. The retail space will be affordable and marketed so CHH can maintain and preserve CD business or open space for emerging businesses. Continue reading

Man charged in string of fake FBI agent robberies including $130K rip-off in Central District

The man the FBI says impersonated one of their agents and robbed a Central District business of nearly $130,000 has been arrested and charged, officials announced Friday.

Steven W. Fisher, 43, has been charged with attempted robbery, robbery, and five counts of impersonating a federal officer, according to the announcement from the Western District of Washington’s U.S. Attorney.

In a January robbery reported on by CHS at the time, investigators say Fisher claimed to be a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent investigating a suspicious transaction at 23rd and Jackson’s Red Sea Finance.

According to the SPD report on the incident, a worker at the “bank/savings and loan” was closing up for the night around 7 PM when the suspect knocked on a metal security gate, showed a badge, and said he was FBI. Once he was let in past the security gate, the phony agent told the worker he had conducted a “bad transaction” and asked to see the records for the day. “(The victim) pulled up his transaction record on the computer as S1 looked on,” the report reads. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s turn for upzoning: HALA process to begin next month

Earlier this month, Mayor Tim Burgess signed off on the Uptown neighborhood’s rezoning but that was only one part of a 30-year plan. Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), which sits under the larger Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) program, puts Capitol Hill and Central District up next in the Seattle City Council process.

The mayor’s office will hand Capitol Hill, Madison, Ballard, and the Central District over to City Hall next month for the start of the rezoning process. This is when the Council will work out the upzoning details and timeline. The majority of zoning slated for Capitol Hill will change to Low Rise 3 and Neighborhood Commercial 3 and 2 zones (or NC3 and NC2, at 75 feet or 55 feet height maximum). They mostly permit one more story. These categories have square footage limits codified in them as well.

The City Council will likely vote on Capitol Hill zoning changes in 2018, but Jesseca Brand with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods said we’ll see housing built under the framework before 2021. Continue reading

Happy Grillmore joins the family at 13th and Jefferson

(Images: Alex Garland)

Darren McGill and Kryse Martin-McGill are raising a growing family food+drink businesses in the Central District. Little Happy Grillmore now joins the family at 13th and Jefferson.

The burger joint born as a McGill food truck now neighbors big brother Nate’s CD, the Seattle University-approximate expansion of the waffle and wings brand that came to the neighborhood in 2015. The McGills, meanwhile, are also raising the Central District Ice Cream Company which opened on E Union in late 2016. Continue reading

Community market stand small part of patching big hole with 23rd and Jackson Red Apple closure

(Image: Clean Greens)

When the Central District Red Apple closed this month as Vulcan readies plans to redevelop the store’s corner of 23rd and Jackson, residents of the CD lost a community resource and one of the only big grocery markets in the area. Lottie Cross, the director of Clean Greens, a nonprofit market stand and CSA, and 55-year resident of the Central District, came to the rescue. Providing no-pesticide, herbicide-free collard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet corn, and many other vegetables, Clean Greens is filling a small part of the big hole left by Red Apple’s closure.

“They (Vulcan) came to me,” Cross tells CHS. “Last Saturday was our first day in the new location — we sold way more than usual. At least 50 people stopped by and almost bought us out.”

Formerly located at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Saturdays, the Clean Green market stand now pops up across the parking lot from the old Red Apple, near the Walgreens. According to Cross, Vulcan partnered with Clean Greens to provide access to healthy food “for as long as possible.” It’s up to the weather to decide how long the stand is there, but Cross expects to have a presence through December, and maybe after.

Cross tells CHS that any leftover vegetables go to Operation Sack Lunch, a nonprofit that provides free vegetarian meals throughout Seattle. Vulcan supplies a tent, and funding for one person to run the market stand, but other than that, it’s a purely volunteer organization. The purchase of seeds, the lease, and payment for their farm manager, Tommie Willis, comes from money raised through the CSA program, which runs from July to October. 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