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.
Midtown: Public Square’s design still needs a few more tweaks
With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.
Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.
December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District. Continue reading
The future of 23rd and Union won’t look like this — exactly. The Midtown Center development on the southeast corner is set to return with an updated design from this rendering in December
What is hoped to be the final step in the design review process for the redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center is slated for December but the companies and groups working on the project are holding two community “conversations” this week to meet with neighbors about the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment building with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles.
Developer Lake Union Partners is hosting a set of meetings — one Wednesday night and one Saturday — to “explore community opportunities at the Midtown project site” —
Midtown Block: Community Design Conversation
Change set to split the community around 23rd and Union among those who consider it a central part of the neighborhood’s social fabric and those who will be happy to see it go is finally coming. Preliminary paperwork has been filed for the demolition of Midtown Center.
The six demolition permit applications filed October 4th aren’t anywhere near approval from the City of Seattle but the paperwork is yet another reminder that the corner is set for its latest and biggest transformation yet.
The permits cover the existing and still operating commercial buildings in the center as well as the empty residential structures on the block and the small cafe in the middle of the parking lot. “Commercial bldg. (The small café). I don’t know the address, perhaps 2301 23rd Ave,” the application for that demolition reads. Continue reading
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
Public comment and the East Design Review Board aligned Wednesday night in agreement that the latest designs for the proposed redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center did not meet expectations for recognizing the history and the culture of African Americans and Black Seattle at 23rd and Union.
The “portals” that open to the street from Midtown: Public Plaza are still not open enough to foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood and to support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside — the building needs to do more than utilize masonry to recognize African American-style architecture from the neighborhood — the design needs more “Afro-centric” colors and patterns and, as currently designed, looks too “South Lake Union” — features like the open plazas and a proposed video screen installation to showcase local arts and history need to have more fleshed out programming plans — a proposal to keep costs down on the three building development with connecting skywalks and fewer elevators and stairs needs more thought — and more.
They also agreed on something else.
The review board covering neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Montlake, and First Hill wasn’t necessarily the best body to make the decision.
“How is the Central Area design team not looking at this?,” one speaker asked during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s night’s review, the final stage for the project in the city’s public design process. She also stated the obvious — each member of the design board Wednesday night was white. Continue reading
At least one person was shot in the leg and bullet casings were found spread across the intersection after a volley of gunfire from a vehicle that quickly sped away from 23rd and Spring Tuesday night.
Police and Seattle Fire rushed to the area just before 6:40 PM after multiple reports of shots fired on a night when most of the booms reported to 911 are fireworks. Continue reading
Don’t worry — this is only the massing concept for the four-piece apartment building being shaped for the Midtown block
In July, the long awaited redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center will finally take its last step in the design review process. But first, Wednesday night, neighbors will get a preview of the final plans as the Central Area Land Use Review Committee community group hosts representatives from developer Lake Union Partners and architect Weinstein A+U for an open meeting to discuss the latest designs:
Midtown Center Design Community Meeting
Later this month, the redevelopment of 23rd and Union will continue with the first design review for the huge “inclusive development”-focused project from Lake Union Partners, Capitol Hill Housing, and Africatown set to rise above the corner currently home to Midtown Center. As the planning comes together for the mixed market-rate and affordable development, there is an opportunity for neighbors to start shaping a key element of the design.
Developers are collecting feedback on plans for a “public square” at the center of the four apartment buildings being planned for the site:
Most prominently, the project includes a public square almost 9,000 sf in size. The square is accessible from East Union Street and both 24th and 23rd Avenues. Surrounded by active retail users, the square is intended as a community gathering space during the daytime and evening hours, with special event programming from local community groups.
You can learn more about the plans and provide your suggestions for the square’s features at courb.co/midtown.
Patrick Foley of Lake Union Partners tells CHS this the first time his firm has used the coUrbanize platform on a project. Continue reading
- Midtown Center
- The Stencil…
- and East Union is coming… soon
It is a riskier bet than most $23.25 million land deals in Seattle. But new neighbors and longtime community members are probably happy to see real progress. Africatown, again in partnership with sustainability nonprofit turned in-city housing developer Forterra, will still be part of inclusive development component in the deal. And the buyers seem to know what they are doing.
Lake Union Partners announced Tuesday that it is surging ahead with a plan to redevelop 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center block and has already closed on a purchase of the land — a riskier approach than national shopping center developer Regency Centers and its partner Lennar were apparently willing to take in their failed deal to acquire the property and build a grocery-focused project.
“Given our other investments at 23rd and Union, we’ve worked hard to connect well with the neighborhood and as always, we simply try to do good work with our design, be respectful of the community, and create projects with neighborhood retail that residents of the area need and want,” Patrick Foley of Lake Union Partners said in the announcement. Continue reading