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Developers collecting ideas for ‘public square’ at 23rd and Union

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

Patrick Foley of Lake Union Partners tells CHS this the first time his firm has used the coUrbanize platform on a project.

Design review: 2301 E Union

“I think most of the people we have heard from sound sophisticated and know what they want,” Foley said of the feedback provided so far. Foley said the most numerous requests have been for a restaurant or two to face the square. A space for seasonal markets in the square is also at the top of people’s wants for the development.

In addition to providing an opportunity for neighbors to weigh in on what they would like to see in the project, Foley said the online site will help get information out to people who can’t attend community meetings being organized to discuss the project.

Foley said the square in the midst of the mixed-use buildings will remain private property but have 24-hour access and will be designed with three portal entryways to encourage access from the street. Security and lighting are being planned to help keep the space safe. Commercial and residential activity will keep the area busy, Foley said.

Many of the opportunities for Africatown Plaza are similar to the hopes for the plaza that will be at the center of Capitol Hill Station’s development. The farmers market is expected to be able to utilize the station’s coming plaza and planning for a Seattle AIDS Memorial in the space is underway. One artistic component for the 23rd and Union plaza is already ready to go.

When it’s complete, the Midtown development will create about 250 affordable housing apartments and 280 market rate units. The project will also include 25,000 square feet of retail, “10,000 of which is planned for small scale, locally owned businesses,” the developers say.

Foley said the plan is to continue the online conversations about the plaza through the early part of the year and have ideas incorporated into planning by June, around the time when Lake Union Partners hopes to be ready for the next phase in the design review process.

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4 thoughts on “Developers collecting ideas for ‘public square’ at 23rd and Union

  1. is this really the best use of this space when there is such a great need for affordable housing. Miller Center isn’t that far away.

    • Did you read what this project is about? Over 250 affordable housing units will be built in and around the public square.

    • The Miller Community Ctr at 19th and John? Yeah, that IS pretty far away. This is a public square for Union and 23rd in the CD, not for E Capitol Hill. The GARFIELD Community Center, at 23rd and Cherry, however is not too far away. But there’s not much of a square there.