How a proposal to extend a Restricted Parking Zone near E Madison was born

rpz18444334030_3d6c40fa08_oTuesday night will bring your opportunity to publicly comment on a community-generated proposal to add more blocks around E Madison to the city’s Restricted Parking Zone 2.

The meeting will also help show you how an RPZ is born if you’re into that kind of thing.

“The Capitol Hill Community Council has requested the City make more blocks eligible for RPZ 2,” the Seattle Department of Transportation notice for the meeting reads. That’s mostly true.

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City responds to 23rd Ave businesses trying to survive street overhaul

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Help is on the way for small business owners on 23rd Ave who say they are on the ropes as a major overhaul of the busy corridor has choked traffic and pushed pedestrians off sidewalks. But it’s not the help they asked for.

Friday afternoon, City Hall representatives tell CHS “project improvements and community financial assistance” are coming to the street at the direction of Mayor Ed Murray.

“As we reconstruct 23rd Avenue, we will do more to respond to the needs and concerns of business owners, with marketing assistance, improved signage and individualized consultations. We want all of our Central Area businesses to succeed during the disruption,” Murray said. “When the project is complete, neighborhood businesses and residents will enjoy a more walkable, active atmosphere with improved access to shops and services.”

23rd Ave owners will not be getting the direct cash relief they have called for, but two city agencies are promising to address some key concerns with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Complete Streets Project.

Responding to community concerns about the project, the Seattle Department of Transportation will reorder its construction schedule to reopen 23rd between Jackson and Yesler in March, one to two months earlier than currently planned. The Office of Economic Development will also provide $102,000 of new funding for marketing the area and business support — but not direct mitigation payments to area businesses. The city said the additional funding follows recent grants of $220,000 for “economic and cultural development projects” in the Central District.

SDOT will also introduce a variant of the Construction Hub program that has been utilized to help improve conditions for businesses around Pike/Pine’s busy blocks of redevelopment. An inspector for the project has been named and designated as a point person for merchant concerns during 23rd Ave construction. You can reach Eric Sadler at (206) 391-7854 and help him in his role “to closely monitor contractor construction activities, and to hear and respond directly to business concerns.”

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Police investigating Friday morning gunfire at 23rd and Union

(Image: SPD)

(Image: SPD)

Police closed off the parking lot at the Midtown Center Friday morning after reports of gunfire in the shopping strip near 23rd and Union.

There were no reports of injuries and it’s not yet known if any buildings or vehicles in the area were damaged, a SPD spokesperson tells CHS. Police and the SPD’s gang unit were collecting evidence at the scene.

The reports of up to seven shots came in just before 11 AM. Witnesses described a vehicle believed to be involved in the shooting that left the scene. Police were searching for the car — we don’t have a description of the vehicle.

There were no immediate reports of arrests.

The sales process for the Midtown Center land is coming to a culmination as buyers have emerged to develop the block-long property.

In the Central District, big real estate deals moving forward along 23rd Ave

It has been seven months since the Midtown Center in the Central District was put on the market last summer, and, as of right now, the hot piece of real estate is still for sale — though a deal is looming.

For now, both the realtors and community stakeholders are mostly mum about the status of the bidding and sale process. Jason Rosauer, vice president and partner at Kidder Matthews, the agency working on the sale, declined to comment, while co-realtor and investment sales specialist Rob Anderson told CHS that “one or two” potential buyers have been identified. “We identified a couple of very strong buyers who have a high level of interest,” said Anderson. “It’s just a matter of working through the process.”

Further south at Jackson and 23rd, Vulcan, the Paul Allen-backed real estate investment company, is eyeing property at the intersection for development and is apparently ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. In December, CHS reported that the company had entered in an “evaluation agreement” for 6 acres on both sides of S Jackson. Next month, Vulcan is holding an open house to meet with the community about the deal: Continue reading

Two in custody after shootout in Pratt Park

Two people were taken into custody and fortunately there were no injuries after gunfire in Pratt Park just around 7 PM Monday night.

Calls flooded 911 some with the dispatcher reporting the sound of gunfire in the background just after 7 PM as residents and passersby in the area reported the situation to police. One witness described two groups of people moving through the park and shooting at each other, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.

There were no reported injuries.

Seattle Police arriving on the scene took two people into custody, according to the department but no further details were available. According to police radio, handguns that showed signs of being recently fired were recovered. Police continued to collect evidence and look for information following the incident including at a nearby E Yesler building where a fresh bullet hole was found in an apartment’s window.

UPDATE: SPD has posted its report on the incident and confirmed one arrest:

Police caught a 21-year-old convicted felon and recovered a stolen pistol last night after officers responded to reports of gunfire at a Central District park.

Witnesses called police around 7 PM last night and reported two groups of men were firing guns at one another in Pratt Park, near 19th Avenue South and South Main Street.  No one was injured in the incident. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Take a tour of E Union’s Tiny House Village

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The E Union Tiny House Village celebrated with a housewarming Saturday as the 15-unit Nickelsville and Low Income Housing Institute project on a Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd-owned lot welcomed neighbors and the people who built the little homes for a donation drive and tour with residents.

“I’m glad Seattle is actually doing something to help the homeless,” said Tyler Buell, a student from a Renton Technical College program that helped construct the residences. “Sometimes you just need a place to keep your stuff, get warm. So that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.”

Several organizations including Seattle Central Wood Technology students built the 15 two-person houses with their own funding. Each house cost roughly $2,200 in materials, are wired for electricity. One requirement was that the houses be moveable in case of a need to move the community or redeploy one of the units elsewhere. A bathroom pavilion, a kitchen tent, and showers were also part of the village plans.

Residents for the new homes were chosen from within the Nickelsville community with priority given to veterans and longtime members. Governance will be handled within the community itself.

In 2015, more than 45 people died on the street in Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray declared a homelessness state of emergency. Organizers hope that the Union Tiny House Village is the first of many in Seattle.

For students like Buell, the project was also an opportunity to increase his house-building skills including roofing and framing. He’s hopeful that more villages like this one will be built.

“A lot of success stories come from people who were down at the bottom and rose up,” Buell said.

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Sawant: ’23rd Avenue is Open for Business!’

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Last week, CHS reported on the long-term benefits and near-term pains for small businesses along 23rd Ave as the key artery between the Central District and Capitol Hill undergoes a massive project to make it safer, more efficient, and neighborhood friendly. Some larger media attention followed.

Friday, District 3 City Council member Kshama Sawant called for the community to support the area’s merchants through the months of construction to come:

23rd Avenue is Open for Business!
For months now, much of 23rd Avenue has been blocked off, under construction.

Large construction projects like this one very often lead to much-needed street improvements, and are beneficial to the entire community in the long run.

But impacts during construction differ. Big businesses have the cash reserves to stay afloat and weather a loss of business during construction. But small, especially very small, businesses do not have that advantage, and risk going out of business.

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Suspect charged with murder of Central District teacher was wanted drug dealer

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.24.04 AMProsecutors say a convicted cocaine dealer wanted on a warrant for a 2013 drug delivery conviction gunned down Central District teacher Brent McDonald “without cause, provocation or apparent reason” in the December slaying of the popular artist on a Belltown street.

55-year-old Richard Whitaker has been charged with second degree murder and is held on $2 million bail in King County Jail.

According to court documents, police tracked down Whitaker, who goes by the name Richard Roundtree and also by the street name Snipe, using video surveillance that captured images of the suspect the morning of the December 13th shooting, and with information from a tip line caller who said Whitaker’s girlfriend admitted she had witnessed the murder. Continue reading

‘Gentrification stops here’ — MLK march ‘splinter’ group targets Central District pot shop

Protesters outside Uncle Ike's (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Protesters outside Uncle Ike’s (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Around 300 people splintered from the planned MLK Day march at Garfield High School and rushed to 23rd and Union to surround the retail pot shop Uncle Ike’s Monday afternoon.

As around 5,000 marchers headed downtown along the planned route, the splinter group of hundreds and a contingent of Seattle Police officers following it wound its way through the busy construction activity in the 23rd Ave corridor. Chanting “Black lives matter,” the crowd assembled itself surrounding the Uncle Ike’s buildings on the northeast corner of the 23/Union intersection.

Meanwhile, thousands of students, activists, officials, and community members proceeded downtown through First Hill for planned rallies at the Federal Building. While waiting for the march to start at Garfield, Vanita Clark told CHS she has been coming to Seattle’s MLK Day events for most of her life. As a lifelong Capitol Hill resident who raised her children in the neighborhood, Clark said she was marching for rent control and fair housing as she has watched the African American community dwindle over the years.

“Our daughter grew up on Capitol Hill, but she had to move to Tacoma,” Clark said.

In 2015, the massive march — one of the largest MLK Day marches in the nation — was marred by a violent response from SPD officers to a smaller protest that followed the main march and rally. In 2016, it appears the push for a secondary protest beyond the planned MLK activities was to be centered in the Central District. Continue reading

Assessing the state of Africatown amid rapid Central District redevelopment

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K. Wyking Garrett speaking during the Black Wall Street event. (Image: CHS)

In the struggle to forge a neighborhood identity in the same vein as the Chinatown/International District, Africatown has come to represent a movement as much as neighborhood — a movement to create more black institutions, businesses, and influence in the the Central District.

For K. Wyking Garrett, one of Africatown’s leading advocates, the question over Africatown’s struggle to establish itself gets to a much broader question.

“It’s like asking ‘why is it that African identity and contributions to America and the world aren’t lifted up and valued?’” Garett said. “It seems that many people brought their identity from their mother country into the Americas, but there was an erasure when it comes to Africans that were brought here.”

Garrett will be discussing that and more during the third annual State of Africatown event on Saturday afternoon at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center at 17th and E Yesler.

Africatown has made some promising strides over the past year. Continue reading