Roasted corn — and machine learning in a food truck — at 23rd and Union’s El Costeño

Moises and Bernardo

Moises Santos is a 24-year-old programmer, food truck designer, and immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico. His food truck holds down what seems like prime territory — the pot purchasing and stoner friendly parking lot at the Central District’s Uncle Ike’s. The truck is not run like a pipe dream but, instead, puts to use a fat pipe of bandwidth and crunches datasets of Seattle to make business decisions like how much carne asada he might serve up on a Tuesday.

“We’re a pretty innovative culture, we’re hardworking people,” Santos tells CHS as he stands by a corn roaster of his own design.

While the corn roaster is a first run concept, the food truck is a state-of-the-art restaurant on wheels that took two years to design and manufacture.

“It’s an artificial intelligence food truck,” Santos said. Continue reading

‘Rare central Seattle find’ — With $2.8M listing to sell some of its land, church neighboring Uncle Ike’s begins longterm plan for new home

Mount Calvary is selling land across the street on 23rd Ave for $2.8 million that will be the start of its plans to find a new home away from 23rd and Union

A $2.8 million real estate listing is a harbinger of things to come at 23rd and Union. The Mount Calvary Christian Center, which unsuccessfully battled the neighboring Uncle Ike’s pot shop in court, is beginning the process of finding a new home closer to the areas where most of its congregation now lives.

“We’re still very much a part of the community,” Nicole Bascomb of Bascomb Real Estate Group and a member of Mount Calvary tells CHS, “and we’re going to be there for a while.”

But change has begun. Bascomb, daughter of longtime Central District real estate agent Paul Bascomb, has listed her church’s Joshua Generation Teen Center property on the west side of 23rd Ave across from Mount Calvary for $2,824,250. Continue reading

Central District e-bike showroom Electric Lady shutting down

Alex Kostelnik is getting out of the e-bike biz

One of the more future-looking retail ventures in the area is calling it quits. Here is why Electric Lady, the Central District e-bike shop in a building part of the wave of new development at 23rd and Union, is going out of business.

“(T)he business is doing well financially, but he is not enjoying the work needed to navigate what he sees as an unreliable industry where companies start up, go under, fire staff and get bought constantly,” the Seattle Bike Blog writes aboutowner Alex Kostelnik’s decision.

But Kostelnik tells SBB he was also having trouble connecting with his customers:

“They’re first time riders, but they’re not first time riders that are stepping up to the plate to hear about the community or join the community. They’re sort of strange outsider, know-it-all lonely people who aren’t really part of our community, and I don’t know where to begin with them.”

It’s not all sour grapes. Kostelnik will continue to run 20/20 Cycles just up the E Union hill and plans to include some electric bike models in his inventory. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Earl’s Cuts and Styles making temporary move before new life in Liberty Bank Building

It’s almost moving day for Earl Lancaster

After nearly 30 years of business, Earl’s Cuts and Styles won’t be cutting hair in the Midtown Center at 23rd and Union after this weekend. But its new home across the way in the Liberty Bank Building isn’t ready for the legendary barbershop just yet.

After Saturday’s final day of business in its original home, Earl’s is moving across the street to a temporary shop in The Central building. Earl Lancaster said he hopes the stay will be short and that he should be in his new shop in the Liberty Bank Building by the end of March. Continue reading

Lost in progress at Midtown Center: a 23rd and Union small business and a Central District post office

(Image: CHS)

As much as some neighbors may be looking forward to the demolition of the old Midtown Center shopping strip at 23rd and Union, the end isn’t much to celebrate. You can feel the missing systematic safety net for Seattle’s small businesses as one small shop owner struggles to sort out what comes next. Other changes will be inconvenient and, for some, further evidence that Seattle — and the Central District — is tossing aside community elements as it reaches for continued growth and development.

“Please help me. Please don’t forget about me,” Saad Ali pleads. The owner of the 99 Cents Plus store in the now mostly vacant shopping center is happy to finally hear from a journalist. Attention from Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has helped, he says, but it hasn’t helped him find a new place to move his store or any opportunities for grants or financial assistance to weather the change. More useful, he says, has been recent conversations with a few officials from City Hall who are looking into ways to help Ali move.

Continue reading

That Brown Girl Cooks chef has ‘Seattle Soul’ plans for new Central District restaurant

Kristi Brown and her son Damon Bomar live and work at their home on Beacon Hill. A few miles away in the Central District, their restaurant planned to open in the summer of 2019 is under construction as part of the new Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union.

With success building a catering business with That Brown Girl Cooks, Brown’s 30 years of cooking experience will finally find a permanent spot in a neighborhood she considers part of her home turf.

Brown calls her cooking style Seattle Soul.

“I’d say that Seattle Soul is rooted in soul food, innovated upon by the influences here in Seattle,” Bomar said. “We don’t like to call it fusion, because we’re not necessarily melding actual recipes, but it’s more about taking different ingredients and utilizing them in the recipes we have.”

The new restaurant will be on the ground floor of the Liberty Bank Building and while it looks like two separate restaurants are being built, Brown says that the space on the left will be a robust commercial kitchen while the space to the right will seat up to 64 including the bar and chef’s table. Continue reading

Midtown: Public Square kicked back in review process as board says plan for community art not enough

A plan for adding massive installations of art panels to help the project better reflect the culture and the history of the Central District wasn’t enough to convince area design officials Wednesday night as the Midtown: Public Square mixed-use project was kicked back for yet another round of review.

After a four-hour design review meeting, a blended group of the newly created Central Area Design Review Board and the East Review Board decided to ask the developer and its architects at Weinstein A+U to return with plans for art on the building that is more fully fleshed out.

“What we’re going to want to know is where the art is going to be located, and why it is reinforcing the larger design concepts of the building,” East Review Board chair Melissa Alexander said. “Is it art that is speaking to the larger community? Is it drawing people in? How is that art drawing people into the space?” Continue reading

‘Community interest’ — Newly formed Central Area Board will have say on Midtown: Public Square

A key Central District project to create a set of seven-story mixed buildings at 23rd and Union is ready to finish off 2018 Wednesday night with what many hope is the final step in a multi-year design review process spanning two different developers.

An important group will be on hand to see the process through.

The City of Seattle’s Department of Construction & Inspections tells CHS that the members of the newly created Central Area Design Review Board will be part of the December 19th review joining the East Review Board that has been overseeing the process since the first look at a project from a previous developer in early 2017.

Design Review: 2301 E Union

“Based on community interest, the East Board has agreed to incorporate members of the newly created Central Area Board into the recommendation process for this proposal,” a city rep tells CHS. “While the permit application was vested to the previous design review board district boundaries, the property owner has voluntarily agreed to incorporate members of the Central Area Board into the discussion and recommendation process.” Continue reading

Midtown: Public Square shaping up with hopes ranging from My Sweet Lil Cakes to Bartell’s

Midtown: Public Square’s design still needs a few more tweaks

With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.

Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.

December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. 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. Continue reading

Liberty Bank Building: vision of equitable development, great views of the CD

A ceremony to celebrate a financial boost to its vision of inclusive development also provided en opportunity for an early tour of the nearly completed Liberty Bank Building Monday in the Central District.

“I’m a product of the Bronx, New York. Raised in Baltimore. Used to having a lot of diversity in our lives. Coming to the Pacific Northwest, I was stunned and a little lonely for a while,” Regina Glenn said Monday inside the under construction building. “Coming to this project it reminds me of that pulling together that we had.” Continue reading