The walls of the old Red Apple and the Promenade 23 shopping center have come tumbling down. There is more change underway in the Central District.
Demolition began last week on the south lot of the Jackson and 23rd shopping center being redeveloped by Seattle’s Vulcan Real Estate into a set of two seven-story buildings that will create more than 500 new homes at this key neighborhood intersection.
Vulcan has a way with timing. The demolition comes two years to the month after the Paul Allen-backed firm best known for reshaping South Lake Union told CHS it was acquiring the six acres of Central District commercial property for $30.9 million. The company has said it doesn’t have plans to redevelop its holding on the north side of Jackson where Starbucks and Walgreens are part of a cluster of big-chain commercial businesses. But on the south side of Jackson, it is a different story.
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Following demolition, contractors will dig in on building the Hewitt and Runberg Architecture Group designed complex, creating two seven-story buildings with a combined 532 apartments and a whopping 44,000 square feet of commercial space “for a grocery store and micro-, small- and medium-sized local shops and services.” Below ground, there will be room for 550 cars to park.
“The project is envisioned as a vibrant, community-oriented mixed-use development that reflects the Central Area’s unique heritage and culture,” the Vulcan description reads. “The development also incorporates a large landscaped plaza, a mid-block connection and community amenities.”
Those more than 500 new homes are part of the new push of new housing construction across Capitol Hill and the Central District that, due to their large scale, may — or may not — be contributing to a suddenly dry pipeline of projects in the early review phase. Another relative mega project — four buildings set to rise starting later this year around Capitol Hill Station — will create more than 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space on Broadway by early 2020.
As the city moves forward toward mandatory housing affordability requirements, Vulcan will utilize a longer running program to make some of the new 23rd and Jackson housing available to a greater diversity of income levels, too.
The developer plans to use the Multifamily Tax Exemption to make 20% of the 23 and Jackson units affordable. Around 107 of the 532 units are planned to be made available to renters earning 65% to 90% of the area’s average median income. “We need to have affordable housing that would be more at the low income range of the AMI—anywhere from 60% and below would really work to help keep a lot of the black residents here,” Evelyn Thomas Alan, founder of the Black Community Impact Alliance, told CHS about the area’s needs when we talked to her about the project and Vulcan’s plans in 2016.
This week, as the wreckage of the old Red Apple is torn away, the block is also being shaped to include a major grocery store in the mix of development set to rise above the old Promenade 23. Projects like Shelf Life captured some of the community’s stories before the teardown. Others are being wiped away.
Construction is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.
For more about Vulcan’s project and construction updates, check out 23jackson.com.
UPDATE: A group of artists that originally targeted Paul Allen’s Upstream Music Fest is calling on Vulcan to pursue equitable development at 23rd and Jackson including dedicating 25% of the Promenade 23 property to a community land trust. Meanwhile, the Vanishing Seattle effort has listed the roster of “businesses (mostly small and Black- & immigrant-owned) that were displaced/relocated” from the shopping center: