The development plans for 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center are on hold. The Puget Sound Business Journal reported Wednesday that a member of the family that has owned the property for more than 75 years said the planned development’s financial driver Regency Centers had “fallen out of contract” — biz talk for saying the $20+ million deal likely lined up for the property has blown up.
Representatives for the Bangasser family have not responded to our inquiries about the report but a representative for the project from Lennar Multifamily Communities and Regency tells CHS the buyers are no longer under contract for the the 2.4-acre property at 23rd and Union.
The representative declined to comment on why the deal had fallen through and whether a new developer might be lined up to take the project forward.
UPDATE 2/16/17: One name that keeps coming up as a potential new player at Midtown is Seattle development firm Vulcan. But if the company that is already at work redeveloping 23rd and Jackson is interested in 23rd and Union, they aren’t letting on. “Vulcan doesn’t have any interest or plans at this time,” a representative for the company tells CHS.
As of early February, an agreement between the developers to sell Central District community group Africatown about 20% of the property to give the nonprofit an ownership stake was still being finalized. “We need more positive development, more investment,” K. Wyking Garrett, CEO of Africatown, told CHS earlier this month. “There is a need to support and grow black-owned businesses.”
Forterra, “a local sustainability non-profit with deep experience helping facilitate complex land transactions,” had been working with Africatown to finance the deal.
Tom Bangasser also tells CHS he plans to gift his share of ownership at Midtown Center to Africatown — a gift worth somewhere around $750,000 to $1 million, Bangasser estimates.
The latest challenges to Midtown Center’s redevelopment come after a turbulent period of change for the property that has grown to represent the challenges of including the neighborhood’s existing communities in its redevelopment. Long held by the Bangassers, CHS reported on the family legal fight that had held up agreement on a $23.5 million deal to sell the land to developers. The first Midtown parcels were purchased by the Bangassers’ father 75 years ago. Paul Bangasser was active in the neighborhood’s fight for racial equality and fair housing, according to his 1992 obituary. With the sometimes nasty court battle mostly resolved, the Bangasser family partnership that owns the property says it is doing more to address safety and use of the shopping center with improvements to the property and an effort to bring in new tenants.
Plans from Encore Architects for the Midtown Center had proposed two seven-story buildings with 355 units in one and 120 in the other. In the larger building,
10% 30% of the units and a to be determined portion of the units in the second would be affordable. Plans also included a large local grocery store, pharmacy, smaller retail spaces and nearly 500 parking spaces.The development hinged on Central District zoning changes planned as part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda — or a special rezone. The early designs called for the seven-story building to be 70-feet tall, below the 85-foot threshold that could be allowed in the area eventually under HALA.
In January, the plans from Lennar and Regency underwent their first design review but both the developers and the board agreed the plans needed more work. With the latest news, those plans will also now need new developers.