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

Capitol Hill Housing unveils plans for eight-story ‘LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing’ development on Broadway

UPDATE: An early project rendering (Image: Environmental Works)

An early conceptual rendering of The Eldridge (Image: Capitol Hill Housing)

Architects and Capitol Hill Housing representatives have showcased plans for an eight-story affordable housing project specifically for LGBTQ+ elders on Broadway between Pike and Pine that will include at least 100 units at a mix of income levels rising above the preserved facade of an auto row-era Seattle landmark.

The project was originally planned to be located on their property at 14th and Union, but the location was shifted to Broadway partly due to influence from the city, according to Chris Persons, CEO of Capitol Hill Housing, the nonprofit developer at the center of the effort. He says the new spot is “much more in the center of the LGBTQ+ community on Capitol Hill.”

“This building is going to really make a mark,” Freya Johnson, project architect at Environmental Works, said Wednesday night during a community meeting at The Summit on Pike. “It’ll be a symbol that we belong here, that this is our Hill.”

One attendee said later: “In my lifetime, I didn’t think I’d see this.” Continue reading

‘Community preference’ — A new anti-displacement policy could have big impacts for the Central District and Capitol Hill

The Liberty Bank Building in the Central District

Antonesha Jackson still remembers riding bikes near the three-bedroom Central District apartment she shared with her sisters and mother growing up. From there, it was just a brief trip to her grandparents’ house and an even shorter walk to Garfield High School.

But when she tried to return to the neighborhood after 12 years studying and working in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, finding a place to rent in her now-gentrified neighborhood proved nearly impossible. She looked for an affordable apartment for months.

Until acquaintances told her about a then-new affordable housing development right here in her neighborhood: Liberty Bank Building, an equitable development project led by Capitol Hill Housing and Africatown. She moved in this March, finally returning to the area she’d grown up in and now operated a fashion boutique out of.

“A lot of the people that live in my building, I have seen around growing up. [They] are from this community,” Jackson said. “It’s beautiful to me.”  Continue reading

Mayor comes to Capitol Hill to launch $50M affordable ‘Housing Seattle Now’ plan

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Wednesday two early-stage steps for more affordable housing in Seattle. One would allow the city to take advantage of a new state law allowing municipalities to use sales tax revenue to fund affordable housing. Another would renew and improve the city’s current multifamily tax exemption (MFTE) program to limit rent increases.

Durkan made these announcements in a speech in Capitol Hill’s 12th Ave Arts, which includes 88 affordable apartments developed by Capitol Hill Housing (CHH).

“We need more affordable housing in every part of this city and we need it as quickly as we can get it,” she said.

CHH’s CEO Chris Persons, introducing Durkan, stressed the urgent need for cheaper housing in Seattle and money for it, saying the organization has about 1,500 units in the pipeline but it doesn’t have the funding necessary to build them.

Included in those is a plan to create an LGBTQ-focused affordable senior housing project on Broadway.

According to the mayor’s office, the MFTE program, which provides affordable rent currently to more than 4,400 low- and middle-income households in Seattle, is expected to aid 1,300 new such homes by 2022, but without renewal, it would expire at the end of this year. Continue reading

Capitol Hill rally goes off without her but Sawant ready to make another push for rent control in Seattle

Rent control was the topic on everyone’s mind at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Capitol Hill Saturday night as Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant’s office and other local organizations hosted a rally to build momentum for the controversial — and currently illegal — policy.

But Sawant was nowhere to be found.

The Socialist Alternative council member who is facing a contentious reelection campaign for her District 3 seat excused herself from the event because of the threat of an ethics complaint for participating in a political rally after ballots have dropped for the August 6 primary.

Several of Sawant’s challengers for the seat criticized her in the lead-in to the rally for holding council-related events so close to the August 6th Election Day.

“Kshama is clearly using her city office to advance her political campaign by holding a city-sponsored rally and promoting it with her campaign,” entrepreneur and D3 candidate Logan Bowers said Friday, adding “Good policies and good leaders don’t need to resort to unethical tactics when they’re working in the interests of their constituents. We deserve better.”

“If Sawant is using city money to hold an election rally, I find this an egregious breach of trust and another reason why we need a change in leadership,” Broadway Business Improvement Area head Egan Orion said. Continue reading

New Seattle tenant protections would give renters earlier notification on sales, more time to make ends meet

Some residents at the Central District’s Chateau Apartments said they found about the building’s sale when organizers from Council member Kshama Sawant’s office showed up at their doors

Legislation to shift notification requirements for the sale of low-income housing will be on the agenda Thursday for a Seattle City Council committee while the mayor is rolling out changes she says will protect tenants from eviction and “help keep Seattle residents in their homes.”

The legislation, sponsored by citywide council member Teresa Mosqueda, would modify a 2015 measure that required owners of multifamily rental housing with five or more housing units — at least one of which rents affordably to a household at or below 80% area median income (AMI) — to provide written notice of the owner’s intent to sell the property to the city’s Office of Housing and the Seattle Housing Authority at least 60 days prior to being listed or advertised. This change looked to give these two bodies time to examine buying the property to keep its rental units affordable.

“In Seattle’s current real estate market, tenants and affordable housing providers often struggle to compete,” Mosqueda said in an emailed statement. “Many buyers come with cash in hand and buy up properties within days of being listed, and buildings are often sold without ever being listed at all—leaving few opportunities for lower-income buyers to get a foot in the door.” Continue reading

Nonprofit developer moving plan for LGBTQ-focused affordable senior housing project to Broadway — UPDATE

The Eldridge (Image: Mithun)

Nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing is shifting its efforts to create a publicly funded LGBTQ-focused affordable senior housing development to the heart of the neighborhood with plans for the building now centered on Broadway between Pike and Pine.

“With 90+ affordable apartments at 60% at or below area median income, a main goal of the project will be to create an anchor for a community at risk of displacement – one that provides health and social services to residents as well as community members not living on site,” Capitol Hill Housing said in a statement on the major change for the project.

UPDATE: A person with knowledge of the plans says that Capitol Hill Housing is shifting its plans for senior housing to The Eldridge project across the street where Tacos Guaymas stands today. UPDATE x2: Capitol Hill Housing has confirmed The Eldridge location.

CHH has been pushing forward with plans to build The Eldridge, a preservation incentive-boosted affordable housing project.

CHH also did not say what will come next — if anything — at the 14th Ave and Union parking lot site where the LGBTQ senior project was being lined up. Continue reading

Seattle passes ‘progressive’ backyard apartment legislation — Now it needs to build them

(Image: Seattle.gov)

30 days after Mayor Jenny Durkan signs it, new legislation passed Monday by the City Council will give Seattle a start at catching up after years of delays on making it easier to build backyard apartment units on single family home properties across the city.

“The vote caps an epic process during which obstructionists abused state environmental laws to drag things out for four years, as pro-housing affordability forces built up steam and finally won out over the objections of a tiny minority of anti-housing activists,” pro-growth and affordability nonprofit Sightline wrote on the passage, calling the new rules “the most progressive ADU policy in the US.” 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

As new legal fight against upzones is launched, D3 candidate says she didn’t approve group’s Valpak campaign

As a Seattle anti-growth group is launching yet another legal challenge against the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, a District 3 candidate says she didn’t approve a recent coupon envelope mailer distributed around Capitol Hill that appeared to endorse her run for the City Council while taking a swing at planned upzoning.

“My campaign did not do this, nor is it anything I would ever have budgeted for,” Pat Murakami told CHS earlier this month about the Valpak flyer warning about “loss of public view and decreased property values.”

“I never open the Valpaks that are mailed to my home, and I assume the majority of folks don’t open them either,” she said. Continue reading