CHS Pics | The walls come down at Midtown Center

Midtown Center, perhaps the most visible and yet somehow most stubbornly unchanged symbol of the strains of gentrification in the Central District, is finally being demolished.

Crews began work this week to tear down the old commercial strip following a slow final year for the old buildings as the final commercial tenants moved out and chain-link fencing went up. Continue reading

Feed Co., last of a Capitol Hill-Central District family of restaurants, getting new owners, new concept

From a growing set of Capitol Hill and Central District food and drink joints to zero — Scott and Heather Staples, creators of Quinn’s, Sole Repair, Zoe, and Feed Co. are saying goodbye to Central Seattle.

“We’ve loved being in the CD & CapHill all these years and will miss the communities! However, now we will enjoy the neighborhoods as supporters!!” was the super enthusiastic response when CHS asked Scott about the planned sale of 24th and Union’s Feed Co., the couple’s final holdings in the area. Continue reading

With vision for ‘African American communities and spaces of the future,’ Africatown Plaza will be next to take shape in the Central District

The coming Africatown Plaza at Midtown

23rd and Union’s Africatown mural (Image: Africatown)

Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound.

The event follows a major development in the Central District with the opening of the Liberty Bank Building and comes as the early design process for Africatown Plaza at Midtown, another fully affordable development around the 23rd and Union core, is about to begin.

“Overall, working to make sure that we still have a heart and soul and a place of unity and community,” the Africatown Community Land Trust’s K. Wyking Garrett said Saturday, before giving a shout out to last weekend’s Umoja Fest Parade, a Central Area staple since the 1940s. He wants Africatown, however, to be more than just these major celebrations, but places “where we can experience Black culture, Black music, Black culinary genius from throughout the diaspora.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Umoja Fest parade marches from 23rd and Union

Over the weekend, CHS reported on Wa Na Wari, a single-family style home just blocks from the multitude of change going on around 23rd and Union that has been turned into a center for community and the arts in celebration of Black culture and history in the Central District.

Saturday, a tradition in the Central Area since the 1940s returned to the neighborhood with the annual Umoja Fest Parade marching from 23rd and Union to Judkins Park.  Continue reading

Why you might want to give a dollar or two to a fundraising campaign to help a Central District barbershop move

With reporting by Emily Piette

A Central District community centerpiece — and a great place for a haircut, Earl’s Cuts and Styles is looking for fundraising help as it moves to a new location in the inclusively planned affordable housing development, the Liberty Bank Building, named to honor the region’s first Black-owned bank that once stood at the corner of 24th and Union.

For owner Earl Lancaster, the fundraising effort is about being able to handle the pile of costs that stack up when running a small business and trying to pull together a move to a new location after years of business at the soon to be demolished Midtown Center.

“The fundraising campaign will cover the odds and ends, helping with some new equipment since a lot of my equipment is older and making sure I have enough running capital for the move to go right,” Lancaster said.

The campaign has so far raised around a third of its $5,000 goal.

For Wyking Garrett, CEO of Africatown who helped manage the effort to recruit Black-owned businesses to the Liberty Bank project with Capitol Hill Housing, the fundraising isn’t a sign that inclusive development at 24th and Union isn’t working.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to really support and invest in a community treasure,” Garrett said.

But the leader of the nonprofit dedicated to economic development and maintaining and growing a Black presence in the Central District said more, indeed, needs to be done for small businesses facing displacement, and Black and minority business owners facing soaring costs.  Continue reading

Former e-bike shop lined up as planned new home for Central District post office

There is a plan for the Central District to get its post office back.

In a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, the United States Postal service says it is working on agreement with the property owner of The Central building at 2207 E Union to take over the space being left vacant by the exit of electric bike dealership Electric Lady.

“If this location is not adequate or an agreement cannot be reached with its owner, the Postal Service will consider other sites within the preferred area as shown at the May 2, 2019, meeting,” the letter reads. Continue reading

With a vision for affordability beyond the neighborhood, Capitol Hill Housing won’t just be Capitol Hill Housing much longer

Developed in conjunction with Africatown, The Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place, Capitol Hill Housing’s Liberty Bank Building opened in March

By Tim Kukes for CHS

Capitol Hill Housing held its annual meeting Tuesday at the 12th Avenue Arts building, one of several projects across Seattle created by the nonprofit developer of affordable housing.  Members of the organization gave status reports on the successes of the past year and discussed some of the challenges they were facing.  But, CEO Chris Persons did what in journalism is called “burying the lede”.

“We’re coming up with a new name,” Persons said, late in the meeting.  “Think about our name, Capitol Hill Housing, neither of those really represent what we do as an organization, so it is time after 40 years to select a different name.”

What was discussed prior to the announcement Tuesday morning illustrates the need for a new name and rebranding of the organization.  As the leadership spoke it became clear that the message was that CHH was more than in the business for providing affordable housing and its scope was beyond Capitol Hill.

As Persons put it, “Building beyond buildings.” Continue reading

Hoping to follow the equitable development example of the Liberty Bank Building, Africatown Plaza begins to take shape

Community members discuss their priorities for the Africatown Plaza project (Image: CHS)

“Welcome to what we now call sacred ground,” said K. Wyking Garrett, standing in the still bare-bones corner space of the Liberty Bank Building where a new restaurant by That Brown Girl Cooks will land this summer. His comments marked the start of the first community design meeting for the planned Africatown Plaza affordable housing and commercial retail development on 23rd and Union.

Thursday’s meeting gave a first glimpse into what Africatown Community Land Trust, of which Garrett is president and CEO, plans for the site, and was a first step in the design process that is supposed the mirror and exceed the success of the affordable housing development Liberty Bank Building. The opening of the building this spring signaled the start of what is hoped to be a wave of equitable development across the Central District.

“We are here today to talk about the next project, the next building (…) across the street. Which will be similar, but we will improve on what we’ve done here,” Garrett said. Continue reading

After deadly shooting at 21st and Union, where did SPD find a cache of military-style rifles and ammo in gang gun violence investigation? Two blocks away

One of the firearms seized from a Central District apartment building (Image: SPD)

As scads of city officials toured the area around recent scenes of Central District gun violence Wednesday and are considering approaches including simpler, faster solutions like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design features, another factor in the ongoing violence has emerged.

Many of the powerful firearms swept up by Seattle Police, FBI, and ATF agents around Seattle in the weeks following a deadly shooting at 21st and Union were found in an apartment only blocks from where the deadly May 10th gang shootout went down.

East Precinct commander Capt. Bryan Grenon told the African American Advisory Council community meeting last week that some of the military style rifles and ammunition recovered by police was found in a nearby apartment building just blocks from where the deadly shooting occurred, a person who attended the meeting told CHS.

Among the weapons seized were two AK-47 style assault rifles, an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, and a large amount of ammunition. Continue reading

Lowrider Baking Company, the Central District’s new cookie shop, moves in at 24th and Union

(Image: Lowrider Baking Company)

The logo of Lowrider Baking Company, a new Central District cookie counter shop, may feature a large wiener dog but its cookies are for humans only.

“It was just a way to combine my obsession with my dogs and my obsession with cookies,” says Lowrider founder and owner Emily Allport, who owns two dachshunds, Smokey and Riley. Now, she also owns a cookie-only bakery space and walk-up counter in The Stencil building on 24th and Union, located in the former Street Treats retail space. Lowrider Baking Company will officially open May 11th.

For two years, Lowrider has been a popular pop-up presence at farmer’s markets and some coffee shops in the South End. In October of last year, Allport made her cookie operation more permanent with a trailer in the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. There, the bakery has a sign that says “COOKIES,” and in parentheses, “for humans”, though Allport says that “99.9% of the time there is no confusion.” Continue reading