Why you might want to give a dollar or two to a fundraising campaign to help a Central District barbershop move

With reporting by Emily Piette

A Central District community centerpiece — and a great place for a haircut, Earl’s Cuts and Styles is looking for fundraising help as it moves to a new location in the inclusively planned affordable housing development, the Liberty Bank Building, named to honor the region’s first Black-owned bank that once stood at the corner of 24th and Union.

For owner Earl Lancaster, the fundraising effort is about being able to handle the pile of costs that stack up when running a small business and trying to pull together a move to a new location after years of business at the soon to be demolished Midtown Center.

“The fundraising campaign will cover the odds and ends, helping with some new equipment since a lot of my equipment is older and making sure I have enough running capital for the move to go right,” Lancaster said.

The campaign has so far raised around a third of its $5,000 goal.

For Wyking Garrett, CEO of Africatown who helped manage the effort to recruit Black-owned businesses to the Liberty Bank project with Capitol Hill Housing, the fundraising isn’t a sign that inclusive development at 24th and Union isn’t working.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to really support and invest in a community treasure,” Garrett said.

But the leader of the nonprofit dedicated to economic development and maintaining and growing a Black presence in the Central District said more, indeed, needs to be done for small businesses facing displacement, and Black and minority business owners facing soaring costs.  Continue reading

First look at new plan for redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center

Monday’s MLK Day 2018 marchers will pass by the site of the next major change for the neighborhood around 23rd and Union. Here are the first designs for the new mixed market-rate and “inclusive development” project planned for the Midtown Center block.

The newly released plans from architects Weinstein A+U and the Berger Partnership include room for somewhere around 429 units in 273,000 square-feet of residential space, new restaurant and commercial space surrounding a large “public plaza,” and room for nearly 300 vehicles to park below ground. Continue reading

No injuries reported as police investigate more gunfire at Midtown Center

Police were investigating another incident of gunfire Wednesday night in the Midtown Center shopping center. There were no reported injuries or arrests.

Witnesses and 911 callers near 23rd and Union reported multiple shots fired just before 10:45 PM. Police searched the area but found no victims. According to East Precinct radio reports, a shell casing was found near the center’s 99 Cents store and bullet damage was reported in at least one nearby building.

Witnesses told police a vehicle believed to have been involved in the shooting was seen speeding away from the scene. Continue reading

Neighbors get first look at Midtown Center plans: big grocery, pharmacy, 120 affordable units

While the details of an agreement between developer Lennar Multifamily Communities, Regency Centers and Africatown Community Land Trust for the Midtown Center project are still being finalized, neighbors got their first looks at early designs for the development as it moves toward its first design review just a few days into 2017.

The developers showed off a plan for a a horseshoe-shaped, block-long building that Lennar and Regency would fund and a smaller building on the south end of the block financed by the Africatown partnership with around 60% of the units created as affordable housing. Neighbors also heard about plans for a 30,000-square-foot grocery store included in the plan to be anchored by what was described as a local grocer. A representative said the project partners are not yet disclosing who the grocer is and are also not yet identifying the pharmacy chain lined up to move into 10,000 square feet of retail space in the project. There will also be some commercial spaces designed for smaller businesses, representatives said Wednesday night.

In all, the project will bring hundreds of units of new housing to the block:

Working in conjunction with neighborhood leaders, the preferred design includes a separate development on the southern portion of the lot which will provide neighborhood oriented retail, community office space and approximately 120 affordable housing above. The northern portion provides approximately 355 units over a variety of retails uses at ground level. The main corner at 23rd and Union is raised above the storefront, which is setback to allow for wider sidewalks, with the corner recessed even further to provide spill-out space and increased pedestrian activity at the corner. The two developments are linked by a pedestrian through block connection that provides interest along the longer blocks.

Brad Reisinger with Lennar told CHS at the Central Area Land Use Review Committee community meeting held to discuss the project before the Christmas holiday that the company plans to have the agreement with Africatown finalized after its first Early Design Guidance meeting, scheduled for January 4th. Continue reading

Shopping center developer in deal to buy 23/Union block with Africatown as partner — UPDATE

Echoing a framework for “inclusive development” forged across the street where Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable Liberty Bank Building is slated to rise, the developers behind a project planned to bring a seven-story, 400-plus-unit project to 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center say they are working on a deal with Central District community nonprofit Africatown that will give the organization an ownership stake in the project.

The planned deal “articulates a path forward and shared goals for inclusive redevelopment of the property” the companies say.

According to the announcement, California-based multifamily housing developer Lennar is working with Regency Centers to develop the 2.4-acre block and Regency is currently under contract with the property owners to purchase the site. Lennar and the “developer, owner and operator of “quality retail property leasing in shopping centers nationwide” have worked out a plan for Africatown to develop around a half-acre of the site, or around 20% of the land.

“For the past two months, Lennar Multifamily Communities, Regency Centers and the Africatown Community Land Trust (Africatown) have been exploring ways for private developers and the neighborhood to work together in the development of the Midtown Center at 23rd & Union in the Central District,” the announcement reads. Continue reading