Post navigation

Prev: (05/12/21) | Next: (05/12/21)

Plans for Acer House, Seattle’s ‘first truly anti-racist private sector development,’ rising in the Central District

Early design concept for the project’s massing

Legislation to allow a rezoning of the corner of 23rd and Cherry could allow a five story, mixed-use building to rise at the corner, connecting a wave of redevelopment across the 23rd Ave corridor through the Central District where major new developments have already risen at 23rd and Union and 23rd and Jackson.

But developers of the project say the surgical rezone would bring more than an extra story of height to the corner across from the Garfield Community Center and the Garfield High School campus. Acer House, they say, can be an example of a different recipe for equitable development beyond dependence on public funding.

“We believe in the power of housing,” Ben Maritz, the Capitol Hill developer of affordable housing behind the project says.

Acer House, Maritz said, could be the “first truly anti-racist private sector development here in Seattle.”

To achieve that, Maritz said the project will be developed under community focused standards including a commitment to making sure a woman or minority owned business is considered in each final round of procurement and a commitment to non-displacement. The project would piece together property lots including one left empty after a previously mothballed development demolished an old church and the retail building on the corner currently home to Flowers Just 4 U.

Maritz said that Kateesha Atterberry and the Urban Black commercial property management firm will be part of the development team with goals of helping the neighborhood flower shop weather the redevelopment and return to the corner as part of the new project.

CHS reported here on community support helping to lift Flowers Just 4 U and owner Mary Wesley as the longtime Central District business was displaced from 23rd and Jackson for new development there. Black-owned Catfish Corner has announced plans to open in the building that now rises at 23rd and Jackson.

The Acer House project is also being planned with commercial space for a 5,000-square-foot childcare facility, Maritz said.

As part of the agreements to purchase the properties in the development, Martiz said the existing land owners are being offered equity in the project.

Acer House’s design will be community focused, Maritz says.The architects on the project are Capitol Hill’s Schemata Workshop and Donald King, an affiliate professor of architecture at the University of Washington, designing the building according to community principles inspired by afrofuturism:

Afrofuturism, as applied to architecture, is a form, color and material design expression at the intersection of tra- ditional aesthetics of the African diaspora and modernism. The term “Afrofuturism” was coined by Mark Dery in 1993 but was predated in the spirit of enslaved Africans and the lives of their descendants. The first Afrofuturists envisioned a society free from the bondages of oppression – both physical and social. It is not likened to be nominal like “Modernism”, Afrofuturism is the larger movement in which architecture participates. In its programming and narrative, rather than simply in form or ornament, Afrofuturist architectural works contribute to the shift of the projected future.

“Afrofuturist architecture has the power to revitalize Afrocentric communities and their view of the future,” the Acer House developers write in its early design proposal. “It also has the power to change Western perceptions of the African presence in the projected future. Afrofuturism can be defined as a broader, more inclusive vision for both local and global futures.”

As for who will live there, the project is being planned with on-site affordable units under the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program and Multifamily Tax Exemption housing with a goal of 30% of units reserved for low income residents. The building mix will include a mix of “efficient” 400-square-foot studios and and larger family units, according to a presentation from the developer.

To get there, Acer House must win an extra floor of height from the Seattle City Council. Legislation for the rezone is beginning its path through City Hall after being transmitted last month. The city’s design review process will also start soon with community feedback first on elements of massing and context and later on the finer points around the afrofuturist design and colors. There will also be a gamut of community meetings and feedback and outreach opportunities, Maritz said, including a session coming later this month with the influential Central Area Land Use Review Committee community group.

Maritz is hopeful the vision for Acer House is well received and can be a useful template for another way to create new housing in the Central District that is faster and more likely to be repeatable across the neighborhood and the city.

“You can have a for profit project that deliver community benefit, below market rents, and positive return on investment, and scale it,” Maritz said.

You can learn more at acer.house.


DID YOU FIND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL?
Give CHS a buck and support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
21 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ella
Ella
1 month ago

This story title is probably the worst I have ever seen on this blog. What in the actual F.

dave
dave
1 month ago

Sounds promising. When I first read about the location of the project the first thing I thought of was the flower shop owner and how she would have to move once again. But I’m glad to read that the developer intends to work with her to keep her there (hopefully they’ll find a temporary space for her during construction?).

Real Compassion
Real Compassion
1 month ago
Reply to  dave

….so she’ll have to move once again and then presumably again when they open the new building?

Derek
Derek
1 month ago

Tremendous news! A development I can get behind for once!

Bobbo
Bobbo
1 month ago

Queue up the NIMBYs: “New housing is bad for the neighborhood”

p-patch
p-patch
1 month ago
Reply to  Bobbo

So long as these larger developments stick to the major arteries (like 23rd & Cherry) I don’t expect much push back from the neighborhood. The city needs more density and given that the corner is serviced by 3 Metro routes, a large development here feels like smart up-zoning.

Bobbo
Bobbo
1 month ago
Reply to  p-patch

Do you really advocate for sticking all the new developments in a sliver along arterials?

p-patch
p-patch
1 month ago
Reply to  Bobbo

I don’t have the zoning map in front of me, but from what I remember, that’s how Union is zoned between 23rd and MLK. My corner is still single family dwelling, but in another 10 or 20 years, who knows. Off the main streets, density = townhomes + backyard homes.

CD Resident
CD Resident
1 month ago
Reply to  Bobbo

It’s been amusing to see my “woke” neighbors decry the lack of parking and how it will ruin the neighborhood. You can’t address the homeless issue if you don’t have affordable housing so happy to see this development take shape.

The Ghostt of Capitol Hill
The Ghostt of Capitol Hill
1 month ago

Yes, yes, yes! This is an absolutely incredible development, and one that should have been in the works a long time ago.

The only way to ensure that our BIPOC neighbors in the Central Area are not perpetual victims of white supremacy is through segregated housing. Only then will they be protected from the white violence and systemic racism that has been inflicted upon this community for hundreds of years.

Glenn
Glenn
1 month ago

I thought the complaint about the Central Area was that blacks were forced into segregated housing by policies preventing them from living anywhere else. Now Ghost is advocating segregated housing as the means to protect the same group from white violence and systematic racism.

I have no issue with this development as described, but I find Ghost’s description of it a bit hard to fathom.

RWK
RWK
1 month ago

Your comment is so nuts that I have to believe it is satire. Otherwise, you are advocating for a return to segregated housing and neighborhoods.

MarciaX
MarciaX
1 month ago

This isn’t “segregated housing.” There will be white people in the building. (Seattle’s first-come-first-served law virtually guarantees it.) Affirmative marketing is merely an effort to make a housing opportunity visible and attractive to as many people as possible in a particular group, while signaling to those outside that group that they can expect a diverse group of neighbors and if they’re not comfortable with that, then this probably isn’t the best place for them.

wbs
wbs
1 month ago

30% low income housing is a great goal. Make sure it is for families and not just for the 400 sf units. It’s not uncommon for developers play games like this.

So Agree
So Agree
1 month ago
Reply to  wbs

So true!

Nancy
Nancy
1 month ago

Offering current owners “equity” because he won’t pay them what their land is worth then can turn around and declare bankruptcy and/or sell off the project therefore making millions. Wake up people, developers aren’t doing these projects for the houseless or social good. Why else is it so important to push through another story. Greedy developers own this town and Sawant…and all sit at the table to push zoning while everyone else gets shoved out of the city…making sure they can buy or build their way out of affordable housing. Such a complete scam and we are supposed to applaud 30% low income housing and helping a flower shop while he makes millions. WTF.

ward c wilcox
ward c wilcox
1 month ago
Reply to  Nancy

ITS hard to read about this and not see some red flags.

This is totally not gentrification
This is totally not gentrification
1 month ago
Reply to  Nancy

I laughed a little inside, I admit. Love the idea of an anti-racist upzone. Aren’t they all, though, am I right, my developer friends?

Even more so if you use the right color palette, it seems. Which is definitely not a late capitalist satire of social justice, but a totally real thing, according to this team of developers.

seaguy
seaguy
1 month ago

This “first truly anti-racist private sector development here in Seattle.” seems to imply that all other developments are racist. I doubt that is true.

Ben maritz
Ben maritz
19 days ago
Reply to  seaguy

There is a difference between being not racist and being anti-racist!