Midtown design conversations to look for ‘community opportunities’ at 23rd and Union

The future of 23rd and Union won’t look like this — exactly. The Midtown Center development on the southeast corner is set to return with an updated design from this rendering in December

What is hoped to be the final step in the design review process for the redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center is slated for December but the companies and groups working on the project are holding two community “conversations” this week to meet with neighbors about the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment building with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles.

Developer Lake Union Partners is hosting a set of meetings — one Wednesday night and one Saturday — to “explore community opportunities at the Midtown project site” —

Midtown Block: Community Design Conversation

You can RSVP here for the sessions.

Earlier this month, CHS reported on the beginning of the end for the old shopping center at the heart of the Central District community as plans have begun for demolition and clearing the block for the new project.

Wednesday and Saturday’s sessions follow the project’s unsuccessful bid to pass through the final step in the design review process in July as the board felt the project’s design from Weinstein A+U did not meet expectations recognizing the history and the culture of the Central District and would not foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood or support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside.

During the public comment at the review this summer, attendees said the developers needed to do more to incorporate feedback from Central District community meetings and “design ciphers” that had been held in conjunction with the Africatown community group. Many also called on the project to move under the auspices of the newly formed Central Area Design Review Board instead of remaining with the East Design Review Board responsible for neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and First Hill.

December’s review will continue with the East board, according to city records. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District.

The Lake Union Partners project will take place on 80% of the Midtown block, while the other 20% of the property was sold by Lake Union Partners to Africatown Community Land Trust and Capitol Hill Housing. The two projects have separate design review processes with the Africatown project still in the earliy planning phases.

This week’s community meetings are being organized by the developers and are not part of the city’s newly implemented “early outreach” requirements that more recently planned developments must incorporate.

The designs that will be discussed in December have not yet been made available via the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections system.


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10 thoughts on “Midtown design conversations to look for ‘community opportunities’ at 23rd and Union

  1. What do people expect the developer to do? No, really, I’m actually asking.

    They’ve bent over backwards to accommodate community interests, have provided far more outdoor space than required, offered a dedicated space for the historic fountain, more low income housing than required, an incubator space for local businesses…what other building anywhere in the neighborhood has done any of those things? So many of the protesters demands are nonsensical and they can’t even get the facts right.

    LUP was raked over the coals at length over the placement of the fountain when it wasn’t even their decision (that would be the foundation), nor can they do anything about parking access (that’s controlled by SDOT), and the apparently beloved post office everyone was up in arms about made the decision on their own not to return to the space (they’ve since changed their minds). It would be really great if the protesters had some coherent idea of what they want and how to achieve it, because all I’ve seen in these meetings, and I’ve been to them all, is a lot of yelling, name calling, and impossibly unrealistic demands.

  2. TBH, I think they want them to do nothing without directly saying it. I’d like to think I could go to one of these meetings where it was organized and civilized but it always just ends up being a shit show with people yelling and accusing people as racists if they support the project. LUP has been incredibly reasonable imo and have done wonders for the neighborhood already. At this point I’d support any design they provide and feel lucky to have them as developers.

  3. I feel exactly the same way.

    The time for “conversations” regarding this ugly, aging block are over.

    I mean over.

    No more talking. No more disingenuous bs about the supposed “history” of this ugly, aging block.

    The developers have bent over backward to accommodate community it.

    So here’s the thing:

    “Community input” has been, to reuse a word, input into the conversation!

    DEMOLISH THIS BLOCK AND GET ON WITH THIS PROJECT ALREADY!!!!!!!

  4. ” explore community opportunities at the Midtown project site”
    Oh please, this is a racial code phrase at this point. Blacks make up less than 10% of the population of that neighborhood but they sure aren’t talking about the 90% when the word “community” is used. Asians and Jews have a long history in that neighborhood, which the history of the Japanese being the sadest of any (except for the Natives). The fact that this is supposedly about paying homage to the neighborhood yet excluding everything that isn’t about one race is nothing but racial nationalism. It’s disrespectful and racist.

  5. I agree, but don’t except this group to discontinue looking for new ways to bilk the city or private enterprise out of money. There are community activist groups who do nothing but find new ways to get for free what others have to pay for, to get for nothing what others have to work for. Being that Seattle is Ground Zero for the Cult of Progressive Leftism it seems to thrive here. I am going to write letters to those involved in this project voicing my objection to them partnering with these extortionists and racists. I encourage others to do the same.

  6. Yeah, you’ll have to include with those statements that Redlining and Restrictive Covenants were placed on this area specifically to marginalize and segregate Black people in the CD within this area. So, though “other” People of Color and Jews do have a history, they were not excluded from other parts of the City like Black people were. Check you facts – I agree that some of the elements within the community are not well informed and bring drama, however they do have a valid historical and legal position.

    Restorative justice and equitable development are going to be a challenge to move forward – especially when it comes to giving power and money up.

  7. Wow, check your facts indeed. Asians and Jews were indeed restricted in where they could live in Seattle by racial covenants tied to properties encompassing entire neighborhoods., no different than African Americans. In many cases the convents excluded all three of groups.

    http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants.htm

    http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants_report.htm

    The perspective that you seem to put forward that these other ethnic communities simply don’t rate in the history of the CD, or more specifically in the history of racial injustice which occurred in the CD, makes people think that you are not an honest broker of the truth.

    Let us not forget the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942. That seems a noteworthy event in the ethnic/racial history of the Central Area.

    Edward, check your facts indeed.

  8. ” especially when it comes to giving power and money up.”

    No one alive today is responsible for redlining. And most of the people trying to get compensation for it are so young their parents weren’t even alive when it happened.
    Someone who moved to this city 5, 10, 20 years ago has to give up “money and power” due to restrictions that are long gone? A black person who moved to this city 10 years ago gets compensation for redlining? The irony of black nationalists making these demands is amazing: they are flying a flag of a continent where 3/4 of the countries execute people for being gay, has the worse standard of living for women of any continent, and has civil rights violations and abuses that make 1920 Alabama look progressive by comparison.
    But I’m glad you at least mentioned this is really about getting “money and power”. I wish more people would realize that is what this is all about: people trying to get things they haven’t earned.

    Thanks 23 years and counting for speaking truth to power.

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