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Six-story development planned for 23rd Ave church property

There is more change coming to 23rd and Union with another Black church a step closer to its exit from the neighborhood so its land can be developed. A developer “dedicated to partnership and community growth” is making early plans for a new mixed-use project on 23rd Ave on Mount Calvary Christian Center’s properties across the street from its house of worship.

Early filings with the city for The Calvary Apartments 23Calvary project from Seattle-based developer Gardner Global show a six-story building rising across the church’s three parcels at 23rd and E Pike. The church’s teen center structure would be demolished.

The new plans come after Mount Calvary last spring put its third of an acre property home to its house of worship and a surface parking lot on the market for $4.5 million in a listing boasting a “rare opportunity for land in the Central District commercial corridor.”

“Zoned NC2P-75, this site allows for mixed use opportunities not easily found in this high demand neighborhood with vast amounts of pedestrian access,” the pitch read.

That land apparently remains on the market and there is currently no early development activity related to the property.

That move followed a first step in the congregation’s plans to exit the neighborhood when it put its teen center property across the street on the market for $2.8 million in the winter of 2018 2019. The current listing with a price tag of $2.4 million is listed as “pending.” UPDATE: We’ve updated the timing of the $2.8M listing to the correct period — the winter of 2019. Sorry for the editing error.

The teen center property

A deal to sell Mount Calvary’s land on the west side of 23rd would add to the trend of Black churches — “property rich and cash poor” — selling off their holdings and exiting the Central District even as efforts rise to try to help them stand stronger against the steady tide of redevelopment and change.

Mount Calvary also has faced other pressures to give up on 23rd Ave as the Christian center has tangled with neighboring pot shop Uncle Ike’s. In 2014, Pastor Reggie Witherspoon led a “Shut It Down” prayer rally against Ian Eisenberg’s first shop. The church eventually took Eisenberg to court but ultimately failed in its argument that the Ike’s shop should not have been allowed to open at the intersection in such close proximity to the church. Having made peace outside the courts, Mount Calvary decided to take some of Uncle Ike’s cash and has hosted billboard signs for the pot shop on its teen center property. UPDATE: A representative for the church says it received no payment for Ike’s messaging and that the advertising was removed quickly after the church saw it posted by the billboard’s managing company.

The area around 23rd and Union, meanwhile, is transforming at a rapid pace and continues to add new growth. Developments from Lake Union Partners include two projects with a third on the way that have added a combined 675 apartment units and more than 40,000 square feet of commercial and restaurant space. Tuesday, CHS reported that PCC Community Markets is now lined up to add a new grocery in the developer’s East Union building. Its largest project— Midtown: Public Square — is under construction on the southeast corner of the intersection and is set to have a Bartell’s drugstore as its commercial anchor. The Midtown block will also include a project from Africatown and Capitol Hill Housing that will create affordable housing and more commercial opportunities. That effort joins the opening of Capitol Hill Housing’s Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union that opened last March and created 115 new affordable apartment units and street level commercial space.

It is still extremely early in The Calvary Apartments project with important milestones like design review meetings not even on the calendar yet. But the plans show that even with the burst of redevelopment already underway around 23rd and Union, there is still more change to come.

Last year, CHS spoke with Nicole Bascomb of Bascomb Real Estate Group and a member of Mount Calvary, about the property and the church’s future in the Central District. Bascomb said her church planned to remain part of the community as the sales process played out but acknowledged the future of a congregation hoping for growth under an ambitious pastor lay beyond the neighborhood. “From a mission perspective of doing the work of god, we just don’t have the space,” Bascomb said.

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46 thoughts on “Six-story development planned for 23rd Ave church property

  1. This is awful… the hood ain’t the same.

    Fully kicked out all the black folks and you take away their one church because greedy Ike couldn’t work with the community he sucks dry.

    • No one “took away” anything.

      Pastor Reginald T. Moneygrubber is taking advantage of the rise in real estate values to sell the property to inevitably enrich himself…that’s what’s really happening.

      And the Central District is neighborhood that happens to have a historically Black population…it’s not “owned” by some incoherent mass of Black people.

      White people aren’t “stealing” anything.

      Nor are people of any other ethnic or racial group.

      This. Is. Not. How. These. Things. Work.

      Your viewpoint is as incoherent as it is insane.

      • Sounds about white.

        Actually whites did take away a black community they REDLINED in. Can’t force blacks to live In one spot then decide “nah this is cool I kinda like it right now” and kick us out. Black people built a legacy here…

      • Nope. You’re wrong. WE did take away this neighborhood. We did so by only upzoning the Central District and Not North Capitol Hill or Volunteer Park, or Madison Park, or Madrona, or any of the other surrounding neigbhorhoods. It just so happens that those neighborhoods are filled with people who have money and lawyers to fight it.

        It is why this map follows the old redlines….

        Exclusionary zoning is a thing and it causes displacement and gentrification

      • Your lack of empathy around where people were raised and grew up and identify with is staggering.

        Your vitriol feels better suited to the Stranger comment section, because you are one terribly privileged troll that clearly hasn’t met your older neighbors. Assuming you live in the CD at all.

      • The North Capitol Hill commercial zones were upzoned, just like the commercial zones in the CD. Three commercial nodes along 19th Ave East, plus adjacent areas upzoned for denser residential development.

      • While I agree that this original comment is both ignorant and rude, the lack of knowledge about Capitol Hill in these comments continues to blow my mind.

        Capitol Hill was also red-lined (yellow-lined, really, in this case), which is one way it transitioned from predominantly Catholic to queer. It was absolutely upzoned, and has been heavily redeveloped, resulting in massive LGTBQ displacement (much of it to the CD, driving displacement there). In both cases, more tolerant eras have also led to a natural spreading out.

        Sometimes I feel resentful about all the focus on displacement from the CD vs the Hill, but I try to remember that the are intertwined, and that really CD residents aren’t getting much meaningful either. A few housing set asides and some crosswalks. Same as the hill.

        Would definitely be nice if people could be a little more respectful though in understanding that changes have both positives and negatives.

  2. So good to hear!

    And I am sure that Pastor Moneygrubber will be VERY excited at the infusion of cash and all the ways he can spend it!

    Good to see gross religious institutions leave, or preferably shut down…but we’ll take what we can get!

    Now the Lutherans a block away will hopefully fold after evicting the tiny house village with like 30 seconds of notice!

    • Pretty racist to consider a long time black community leader a moneygrubber…but not the developers and Uncle Ike who are definitely money-first capitalists. Weird comment.

    • About the most racist comment I’ve ever seen on here. Wow. That church meant so much to so many. It helped my uncle get out of addiction. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Period…

  3. The good news about the church selling the three parcels across the street from their church is that it puts those three parcels back on the Property Tax Rolls. Churches pay no property taxes so the public has been subsidizing the churches. We need to remove tax-exempt benefits from all religious organizations. Separation of Church and State!

  4. Things change everybody. Since 2016 more babies of color have been born in this country. Someday Portland will even be diverse. I know many people who sold their homes in the Central District because they wanted to.

    • This reads like you’re cool with gentrification

      It’s morally wrong to gentrify the central district. Period.

      White people can live anywhere in the city. Several places….but you choose to take OUR spot. Disgusting and violent!!

      • Nah, violent was 23rd and Union back in the day.

        Zero shootings since the corner started being re-developed, and hey the drug dealers that hung out around Omari’s place 34-7 for years are gone too.

      • Your comments are awfully hyperbolic.

        Also, “OUR spot” reads like you’re cool with segregation. A spot for black folks and spot for white folks.

        You know, “Ya’ll don’t come into our neighborhood and there won’t be no trouble now,” kind of thing. Talk about disgusting and violent.

      • You guys think ugly buildings and gas stations are what caused shootings? LOL! Wow to be way off base…

        Regarding property sales: property taxes poor blacks can’t afford force them out. Maybe go to a community meeting sometime and learn all about it.

      • Nope it was the drug dealers around 23rd and Union that caused the shootings, and now they’re gone, along with the decrepit buildings.


      • You are naive. First: they aren’t gone. At all. Proof in this very blog.

        Second: drug dealers existed because of black suppression and places not paying them the salary whites got in more affluent neighborhoods. How dense are you?

      • Actually I am not white, and live in Capitol Hill. I will be soon moving to Kirkland due to my new job, and I am tired of the politics in this city.

    • Are you saying that the POC employees of Ike’s aren’t getting paid equally? They seem as happy as the rest of the staff.

      Look Jeff, call me dense or whatever but I’d rather not catch a bullet on my block, or have anyone else get shot. That used to be a much bigger daily concern around there.

      • Oh so because you push the poor gang neighborhoods to the south you’re all cool with it because it’s not right here instead? GTFO you’re part of the problem.

        Oh Uncle Gentrifier has POC employees? That’s supposed to change my mind? Because he pays a low wage work 1/10000 of his income? Bet you think police brutality disproportionally against blacks are okay because there’s black police officers who happen to exist (eye roll)

      • Ok Jeff enjoy your anger.

        Hey maybe join forces with OMARI and spam the blog with weird all-caps rambles like the old days. Or whatever floats your boat.

      • Why do you hate Omari so much? You hate a leader who helped bring an African American museum to the northwest? Someone who had his home ripped away from him?

        You sound cool dude. Not racist at all.

    • @huh so true. What’s crazy is Omari is the one recording his own racism on this! That Omari guy is a proven racist with a track record. And know, I won’t repeat what he said :)

    • CD Jeff says: “Regarding property sales: property taxes poor blacks can’t afford force them out.”

      This misleading claim keeps getting repeated. I doubt that very few are being “forced out” because of rising property taxes. Many are selling because they are taking advantage of rising property values, just as all over Seattle. And for those who want to stay, King County has a program for poorer people which significantly reduces property tax for seniors (age 62 and older) and disabled people.

      • There is still a problem with the program… Yes – an older person/low income person in the home can get their taxes reduced, but they are really just deferred, not actually reduced. When they die the person who inherits has to rather suddenly pay all of that money to keep the property. Many families just don’t have the money to do that and thus have to sell.

        I do think that this is unfair – it keeps poor families from fully passing on the one asset they may have been able to gain – a paid for, stable home. I think the program should absolutely be amended so that if the inheritors are also low income that they are not forced to leave – maybe just collect that money when the property is sold? If they choose to leave and realize a large gain then fine, collect then, but they shouldn’t have to leave just because of money – in fact they should be encouraged to stay.

      • I don’t. If you can’t afford to manage a house (which includes property taxes) you shouldn’t be a home owner — let someone else live there who can afford to take care of it. I also dislike how if you let your house degrade and maintain it, it lowers your tax burden. So the system punishes people who upkeep their house, and rewards those who let it go to shit. Because THAT is super unfair.

      • @Ray – so….. you think it’s somehow a low income person’s, lets call her Mary, fault/problem that she was responsible, saved the money she could, purchased a house that she could afford, in a neighborhood that she could afford, kept it up all of that time, paid it off, then you come along 30-40 years later, with many thousands of your compatriots, demanding apartment buildings, boutique restaurants, fancy groceries and all of the other things that raise Mary’s taxes to a level far further than was ever conceivable when she actually bought the place and beyond her capability, on her now likely fixed income to pay? Now you want to treat her like she’s some sort of bad person for having a home here? Really? Really? You disgust me.

        You don’t even understand much about how property value works here…. You don’t own a home I’m guessing or you’d know that houses, unless they are new or in incredible/historic condition have almost no value these days. The land they sit on is the valuable portion, so even if you let the house rot and fall to pieces it won’t have too much affect on your taxes…. Don’t believe me take a look at the assessors map… one of my neighbors has a small house on a small lot – the house is fine, not anything fancy or big, but in decent condition and definitely livable and worth according to the county $10,000…. the land value however comes in at $846,000. So much for lowering your taxes by letting the house go to ruin…

      • @CD neighbor. Maybe instead of “you disgust me” how about “your ideas disgust me”.

        I’m gonna go ahead and stick with my statement, people who can’t afford to pay property taxes on houses shouldn’t have them. They should sell and make way for those who can. I have family members who lost their home for this very reason. They ended up selling as a result and live in a smaller apartment with way less expenses. As a property owner, the county gives you first stab at paying property taxes, if you don’t pay the county pays it and takes the land. That’s how it works. So I can see your point where you think the system is flawed, but within the system, I actually think that’s pretty fair.

        Right now on the parcel viewer, I’m looking at a town-home that has a lot size of 1,728 square feet assessed at $820,000. A SFH property right behind that townhome with a lot size of 4,300 square feet is assessed at $560,000. This is just one example of many. I won’t list the addresses for peoples privacy but look around, (or look at the facts — because you ideas aren’t really consistent with the data.)

      • @Ray – you need to look further than the total value of the property. Firstly you’re looking at two townhomes does not tell the story at all…… look at houses, the older ones most likely to be owned by long time residents of this neighborhood. Commonly owned land – ie condo complexes won’t work, as the tax breakdown may not be listed. The county appraises your property based on 2 factors the land and the ‘improvements’ – which includes the house/garages etc.

        For many of the older properties in this area the appraised land value vs the ‘improvements value’ starts around 2X – for a larger/ very nice house up to 60X or more for a smaller or less attractive home.

        For the most part it is only very new construction or lots so small that they are not developable, even under the newest guidelines where is the house worth more than the land. Allowing your house to decline in value when it is already almost worthless in the eyes of the tax assessor will not lower your property taxes much at all… there is no “reward” to be gained here.

        And why is it like this…. because of zoning changes and that there are now so many people like yourself who want to live here, that it has forced land values so sky high that any buildable lot now has a value that is far in excess of anything that would have been reasonably considered when many of the people who live here purchased 20-30-40 or more years ago.

        I’m not totally opposed to growth (managed) or neighborhood improvement. There always have been and always will be ebb and flow and demographic changes in neighborhoods, but what has happened here has felt to many people as being rather sudden – and while yes, it is in many ways ‘your (and all of the others like you who have decided this is now a highly desirable area) fault’ that this sudden change is happening, but it’s much more your cold, selfish attitude that they somehow deserve it for not being wealthy enough to afford these changes and should be leaving to make way for you (and so very ironically to make it cheaper for you….) anyway that doesn’t exactly gain you a whole lot of sympathy in many people’s eyes.

      • But Condo’s and townhomes do work… Because they do list it, on the parcel viewer…

        Again, it was just an example, there are plenty of other examples, and they are plenty of other houses with lots smaller than 4,300 square feet that have to pay more on a valuation more than $560,000. On 25th, south of king, look at 519 and 526, a $283k difference in taxable valuation, lot size, and house size equal. What’s the difference? Maybe you explain what happened here? Or you could explain how the one lot has such a smaller tax burden?

        But yes, you are correct the actual size of the structure, i.e. lot coverage also plays a factor, which isn’t related to grade. Here is an example.

        My point is run down homes already get a break from the county, along with the senior tax deferral, everyone should have to pay SOMETHING, and I don’t think giving more financial breaks is going to help.

        What’s your point anyway? That once someone owns a home, there shouldn’t have to pay their fair share in taxes to keep it?

        “deserve’s got nothing to do with it” — William Money

      • They do pay SOMETHING…. As far as I know no-one can get full amount of their property taxes deferred *and* the total amount comes due when the person either sells or dies.

      • BTW – the “Grade” of the home is about the construction materials and general quality of the home as it was built, as opposed to the “condition” which speaks to the state of the home in the present. A home that is in poor condition can still be of a good grade and vice versa.

  5. ^^last two comments took original comment way wrong. He’s not saying neighborhoods should segregate but that they shouldn’t redline black people for years and then move them when they want to reclaim it…

    re: the shootings at 23rd and Union…….that was all due to 80s and 90s supression of poors and blacks making gang life the only thing to turn to because you weren’t hiring anyone for jobs.

    Social inequality was the reason for shootings… not ugly buildings. You have cause and effect way backwards.

  6. Reading all of this has been mind-blowing!! HOWEVER, the sale of a church building does not alter the plan of God. This is a business decision, not a morality statement!
    K Darnell Wilson
    Kent, WA

  7. The small retail spots and Restaurant spots should all be owned and Operated by African American people who have deep Cultural History in this area …. I’m praying that it be all African inspired art nothing else nothing more.. Let us keep our identity here in the central district stop coming in and Trying to reclaim something that was never yours… These Amazonians coming need to Retreat back to Bellevue or Kirkland… we are not going anywhere… We will stay by any means Necessary. #MakeRacistAfraidAgain #DonothingMayorDurkan

  8. This whole thread is on some bs. If you knew the history of WHY the Black community refers to the CD as OUR community, you would have a better understanding. Black people in the PNW were forced to live in the CD because of redlining. When we did try to live in the Northend, across Lake Washington, Black people were not allowed to do to Redlining. There were curfews established that prevented Black people from being in specific neighborhoods after a particular hour. So yes, it does both and hurt us that NOW white folks changed their mind and want to live in the CD. Weed and Seed were developed to make sure the ball was rolling to get us out. White people would knock on Black homeowner’s doors and offer them a small amount of money to steal their property to turn around and raise the taxes and prices of homes to make sure Black people didn’t come back. Nowhere in this was tangible help for the community. But this isn’t a new move this has been going on for 100’s of years, and somehow it’s our issue, and white people can wipe their hands clean and blame everyone else for their ways.
    And just as one of you called the pastor money-grabber, we can say the same thing about the gentrification and all the developers and businesses that are breaking up a community with no cares. There is a long history of white people telling people where to live and what to do. But once it’s brought to the attention of the “money-grabbing” white people, they are offended and deny all of their faults but are quick to make an excuse and point out why they are right in all that they do. THAT MY FRIEND…NOT REALLY A FRIEND, IS CALLED PRIVILEGE, WHITE PRIVILEGE THAT IS. All because they want something so they take. Not by fair negotiations but doing it any way they see fit. CHECK THE HISTORY. Some will say this is false but if you are real with yourself and CHECK THE HISTORY you will see it is true.
    Now, as far as Mount Calvery holding out by keeping the church so they can get more money, WHY NOT? The community has already been stripped they might as well get top dollar for their property. If they are going to be forced out they might as well get the most they can get for it. So basically you want them to fall because the new community says so again because of “The Privilege”. Sorry, everyone doesn’t jump because “The Privilege” says so. It’s funny that he is being referred to as greedy but have you thought that you are cheap AND greedy? You assume there are no values and someone else’s culture and religion so you can do what you want to because you feel like it. From the beginning, Black people have been looked upon as less than. White people can just take what they want from Black people and cast them aside. These thoughts and actions are wrong and evil. So, yes Pastor Witherspoon, get all the money you can from whoever is trying to snatch your church’s property to make more money off of it. Because you deserve to get all that you can from it just like anyone else would. It’s called capitalism right? With that money he can establish another chruch in a different area that will COST. Remember property is not cheep in the area so he needs it all! Like it or not.

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