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Bid to rezone 23rd and Union block for six-story future denied… for now

MidTown Center will someday rise to six stories... but not yet (Image: CHS)

MidTown Center will someday rise to six stories… but not yet (Image: CHS)

As one of its driving members announces his campaign to join the Seattle City Council, the community group Central Area Land Use Review Committee is also celebrating a quiet victory at 23rd and Union.

Late last month, the City Council’s planning and land use committee declined to approve rezoning of the 106,000 square-foot MidTown Center property that includes a downsized Post Office, a handful of small businesses, liquor store on the southeast corner of 23rd and Union. The voting Council members said it was a matter of trying to add conditions to a hypothetical future project.

“The problem that I have with doing the approval with conditions is we’re approving a project that doesn’t exist,” Council member Sally Clark said.

“I have no doubt that this corner should be 65 feet in some way,” she said.

Real estate investor Tom Bangasser had asked the City Council to allow future development to build up to six stories on the site. The property is zoned for four stories. The Central Area Land Use Review Committee countered by asking the City Council to insert what is known as a Property Use Development Agreement. PUDAs can include a broad range of requirements for a future developer, including community aspirations for the site, according to LURC.

Like others on the council, Clark said she expects the future of the corner will — eventually — be six stories but that approving the rezone now wasn’t in the cards.

Committee chair Mike O’Brien said he expects to go “through this process again but with a different starting point.”

Bangasser tells CHS his plans for MidTown’s future will remain despite the denial.

“Doesn’t change our goal or our objectives over the past 70+ years to afford,” Bangasser wrote in an email to CHS. “‘Ownership, Jobs & Opportunities’ for people of color at Seattle’s 23rd & Union. The obstacles of racial equality and ‘red lining’ remain … just very, very subtle!” he said.

Even with the denial, the redevelopment of 23rd and Union is moving forward at an increasing pace. With the I-502 marijuana “campus” of Uncle Ike’s filling the northeast corner of the intersection and one six-story apartment development is under construction on the southwest corner with another from developer Lake Union Partners planned for the northwest corner where the gas station and boxing gym stand today. The new developments will also stretch into surrounding streets with projects like Capitol Hill Housing’s planned affordable apartment project gearing up nearby.

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7 thoughts on “Bid to rezone 23rd and Union block for six-story future denied… for now

  1. Wow, I am offended that Bangasser, who is white, is playing the race card by saying this decision is a remnant of red lining. If he wants to build a multi-cultural development there then he should do it instead of whining about how he can’t sell the property for enough money at 40′ zoning. The Richlens just sold their property across the street with 40′ zoning. It will likely become 65′ as the new owners want to do something with their land. Bangasser has been doing nothing on his land for decades and wants special treatment because now maybe he “would” do something there.

    • Exactly! I also found that comment off-putting and offensive. Additionally, how does changing the height code to six-stories help people of color, and stop the redlining that has been pervasive for over 60 years?

      Greed and contempt have fueled that.

      I don’t support these developers or councilmembers’ continuing attempts to over-develop the CD as they have in so many neighborhoods. And I plan to demonstrate that in all my future voting.
      These people don’t speak for me.

      • “I don’t support these developers or councilmembers’ continuing attempts to over-develop the CD…”

        I do. Bring it all on. I want shops and retail and housing and transit and all of it. Hell, if we can get a streetcar running right down 23rd to connect the University District light rail to Mount Baker light rail, I’d be thrilled. You’re not the only “community voice,” the rest of us live here, too, and want different things.

        Development is going to happen. 660,000 people already live in Seattle and another 200,000 are expected to move here in the next 7-10 years. If I wanted to live in a single-family house paradise, I’d have bought in Renton.

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