Post navigation

Prev: (06/25/14) | Next: (06/25/14)

Group wants community priorities to shape future 23rd/Union development


Amanda Bryan of Central Area LURC (Photo: CHS)

While the languishing Post Office and large parking lots remain, a Central District community group is seeking to bind a set of community priorities to future development of the MidTown Center at 23rd and Union.

Some 70 people gathered Tuesday night at 18th and Columbia’s Centerstone to discuss their desires for the 106,000 square foot property at a meeting organized by the Central Area Land Use Review Committee. 

“Central Area LURC is not trying to stop development,” said the group’s chair Amanda Bryan. “We want to make sure it’s engaging with our community.”

To do that, the group wants the City Council to attach community influenced development stipulations to the site before the current family owners sell it off. Next month the City Council will consider whether or not the property can be up-zoned from four to six stories. If the up-zone is granted, the council can also require what’s known as a Property Use Development Agreement. PUDA’s can include a broad range of requirements for a future developer, including community aspirations for the site, Bryan said.

Longtime property owner Tom Bangasser told CHS he’s already begun talking with interested developers.

During those early conversations Bangasser said he applied for the up-zone so developers could start proposing six-story projects. Bangasser, who’s family has owned pieces of the property since the 1940s, said he opposed Central Area LURC’s current attempts to shape the future of the site.

“If you put enough restrictions on the property, nobody is going to buy it,” he said.

Many of the ideas discussed during Tuesday night’s meeting, although still purely hypothetical, echoed those forged by the Capitol Hill Champion for the the Capitol Hill light rail station site: affordable housing, courtyards, small retail spaces, adequate parking, and preserving the history and culture of the surrounding neighborhood.

During the meeting Seattle architect Brian Runberg presented a few “big picture” ideas for the site. One proposal included a large anchor store, possibly a grocer a la Metropolitan Market, surrounded by smaller retail spaces and townhouses.DSCN1688

Bryan said she would present the ideas to council members when they consider the 23rd and Union up-zone on July 16th.

Meanwhile, Lake Union Partners has broken ground across the street on The Central project. The developer paid $3.8 million for the land and plans to build a 92-unit, mixed-use building at the site.

‘Keep the Central Area’s Squire Park Plaza affordable for families, seniors and the disabled!’
Another pocket of community activism to help shape future development is also making itself heard. A group has posted this petition to call on Mayor Ed Murray to work to reverse a plan to sell Squire Park Plaza to a for-profit developer:

We, the tenants of Squire Park Plaza and neighbors, respectfully ask your administration to reverse the OED and OH recommendation dated March 11, 2014 to sell Squire Park Plaza to the private market and to do everything in your power to help CADA sell our building to a buyer committed to maintaining or improving its current levels of affordability.

The building’s current owner, Central Area Development Association (CADA), has entered into an agreement to sell the 1710 S Jackson building to a for-profit developer on the City’s recommendation, the group says.


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

23 thoughts on “Group wants community priorities to shape future 23rd/Union development

    • Because every urban planner’s wet dream is a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. And one of the key things that gets in the way of that is the weekly trip to the grocery store to load up the mini-van with supplies. So they want to replace that with a short walk to bring home a single bag a few times a week.

      • There’s already a Safeway an 8 minute walk away. (About 5 blocks). And I’m not sure how a Metropolitan Market serves the “needs” of the community – unless those needs include overpriced produce and fancy chocolate bars.

      • Yeah, that was my point. You’re not serving the needs of the neighborhood when half the neighborhood can’t afford to shop in the pretentious little yuppie store you build.

  1. Well, let’s be honest Safeway products are terrible. You can have a yuppie store like Met Market or Whole Foods and you still have all those other stores to service those who can’t afford higher end stores.

    If you put in a higher end store with more local options you’ll get people from all over the region going there, guaranteed. We don’t need another sh**tty grocery store.

  2. It doesn’t sound like any of you commenting actually attended last night’s meeting, as the resounding voice of the community member was to NOT have a big box grocery store like Met Market as an anchor but rather smaller, diverse retail and restaurants. Grocery like PCC was mentioned as a “yes, please”, perhaps services like a freestanding butcher or bakery … I would urge you to not view quotes and comments in a blog as the end of a conversation but rather the beginning. Also, it is important to note that the Bangassers and their architect Brian Runberg are primarily interested in getting the property rezoned so it is more valuable, so any comments they make would be best viewed in that context.

    • And perhaps the “resounding voice’ of some 70 people doesn’t reflect what may be the desire of the larger community. I for one would be very happy to have a Metropolitan Market in the neighborhood. Also, Metropolitan Markets newest store in Kirkland is 27,500 Sq./Ft. as compared to PCC’s newest store in Greenlake which is 27,000 Sq./Ft., so calling Metro a Big Box Grocery, but wanting a PCC which you suggest isn’t a Big Box Grocery seems odd. I have also heard, but can’t confirm, that PCC has an agreement with Central Co-Op to not compete in the same neighborhood.

      • And maybe the “resounding voices” are never heard of several thousand low-income residents who, for economic or cultural reasons, may not know about, or have the luxury of time to show up for planning discussions like this. For lots of people arguing the distinction between Metropolitan Mkt vs Central CoOp is largely irrelevant.

      • 70 people is actually a HUGE turnout for a meeting like this and the meeting was surpisingly diverse. That said, I found out about this meeting via a flyer, I’m unsure how others who attended did. I bet the CD LURC who put it on has an email list, you should get on it and attend community meetings.

        The more the merrier …

    • I actually personally would love local services like a butcher or a bakery, I just don’t know how realistic it is. My point: ANYTHING other than another sh**tty grocery store.

  3. I just want something to go there that would discourage the dozens of people loitering in the parking lot. Nothing quite like someone boxing you in your car for 10 minutes while they make a drug deal from the front seat of their car.

    • the Bangassers could tend to there property to keep the frug dealing out. They don’t.

      the Bangassers could lease to more worthy businesses but they won’t offer any long term lease.

      the Bangassers want the upzone to sell for a larger profit – which will burden the new development with the extra cost and make it less likely to produce affordable housing and retail options.

      profit first!

      • I have a feeling that if YOU owned that property, you’d probably be interested in selling it to developers at the best price you could get, too

  4. Most importantly, I just want that intersection to not be a complete shit hole anymore. How did Columbia City do such a good job with their main intersection? Just the right mix between restaurants and retail. Interesting businesses that could appeal to all types of people.

    I realize there are people who are worried about 23rd and Union becoming too “yuppie” but the neighborhood is changing whether you like it or not. My only hope for that intersection is that it not be an uninteresting wasteland which it has been for far too long.

    • I think part of why Columbia City’s development is so nice is they have such nice old storefronts to begin with. It really helps with the charm and the rent. 23rd & Union is about as pretty close to starting from scratch as we’ll probably see in Seattle. The lone historic building is the one housing The Neighbor Lady and sadly the brick is covered by corrugated metal.

  5. A better place for the Metropolitan Market (or PCC) would be at MLK and Union where the Grocery Outlet is currently located. There is no place walkable for decent groceries for people who live east of 27th, especially as you go south of Union.

    • And then all the low-income people in the CD that can walk to the Grocery Outlet to buy affordable groceries….Where would they go?

      • Not everyone who lives in the CD is poor. There are also long-term CD residents who deserve to have better grocery shopping options. Also, for those who are low income, they too deserve to have options to better quality food.

        The area needs better quality grocery options in addition to more affordable choices (Safeway and Grocery Outlet).

        If you can pass up the olive and cheese bars, MM and WF have better quality food options than Safeway at the similar prices.

        Give people options and let them decide whats best for them.

      • No, not everyone in the CD is poor, but many are. It’s all very lovely to talk about low-income people having “options to better quality food”– but what good does it do them if they can’t afford it? And those higher-income people who “deserve better grocery shopping”– pardon me while I whip out my world’s tiniest violin. Most of them that are too good for Grocery Outlet or Safeway have access to transportation that lower income people may not. The last thing we need at MLK & Union is to displace a low-priced grocery store that is CLEARLY filling a community need (and doing it very well), and replace it with another yuppie palace to further indulge people who already have plenty of options. I’ve lived in the immediate neighborhood to Grocery Outlet for 16 years, and believe me that location has never looked better nor thrived as well as it does now. It meets a badly-underserved need selling affordable groceries to many people with fewer transportation or budget options than the avg population. I’d be very sorry to see it replaced by another pretentious YuppieMart.

      • I agree that GO should not be displaced/replaced. Its unfortunate that you think low income people do not deserve ease of access to better foods than GO and Safeway offer and that you’re inclined to tell them how to spend their money. There is plenty of available land in the CD to build additional and better grocery options.

        Also, because some are better off doesn’t mean they should be in their cars and forced to drive out of their neighborhood.

        Please broaden your thinking, Jim.

  6. Pingback: What We’re Reading: Future Cities | The Urbanist

  7. Pingback: Final designs unveiled for four-story Stencil at 24/Union, six-story Decibel at 11/Alder | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  8. Pingback: Bid to rezone MidTown Center block for six-story future denied… for now | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle