CHS Pics | Africatown art project shows ‘what’s possible’ in the Central District

The Central District’s Midtown Center got a new paint job over the weekend as hundreds of volunteers came together, brushes and rollers in hand, to paint a massive mural to demonstrate what the neighborhood could look like before the property is redeveloped in 2019.

“What we’re doing is trying to make a statement in the last few months of this property, to talk about history and the potential future of the neighborhood,” said Sara Zewde, a past Africatown board member. “The future redevelopment retail should incubate small, black-owned businesses from this neighborhood and we’re going to demonstrate the potential for that in this market space.” Continue reading

Africatown gets $1M+ boost from Seattle’s first Equitable Development grants

Africatown has been awarded a major grant as part of more than $5 million in funding for equitable development in Seattle.

“Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the grants. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity within Seattle’s most underserved communities.”

Africatown will receive $1,075,000 for “capacity-building” and “development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project,” according to the City of Seattle announcement of the award. Continue reading

At Midtown Center, community hopes for Central District culture in redevelopment’s design

23rd and Union

The Central Area Land Use Review Committee hosted a meeting last week for developers and neighbors to discuss the ongoing Midtown Center project at 23rd and Union with the community. And while the meeting was ostensibly focused on the design of the project, neighbors and advocates at the meeting reminded developers of the block’s importance in the African American community’s past — and future — in Seattle.

The community meeting was a preview for an upcoming design review meeting that will take place July 18th at Seattle University that could be the project’s final step in the review process for the much watched development:

Design review: 2301 E Union

The project moved forward in the design process in January as many community members said they hoped to see more thought given to design that highlighted the corner’s place in African American culture in the city. Continue reading

Earl’s Cuts — and, maybe, some legendary eats — set for new home in Liberty Bank Building

(Image: Earl’s Cuts and Styles)

At its annual fundraiser last week, Capitol Hill Housing announced some news about its Liberty Bank Building project at 24th and Union that hits right at the heart of the “inclusive” development.

Ready to be displaced by redevelopment of its longtime Midtown Center home, Earl’s Cuts and Styles will be moving into the Liberty Bank development, leaving its former home of 26 years on the corner of 23rd and Union.

Earl Lancaster, the Earl in Earl’s Cuts and Styles, is ultimately optimistic about the move. “I never thought I would have to move, but change is good,” he said. “The neighborhood is changing quicker than we would know, but I’m happy to be a part of it and continue to have a footprint in the central district, which is where I grew up at.” Continue reading

Midtown Center redevelopment moves forward in design review process

A rendering of the planned, mostly public plaza (Image: Weinstein A+U)

The East Design Review Board Wednesday night gave its blessing to the early plans for redevelopment of the Midtown Center at 23rd and Union. The decision moves the project forward to the next phase in the process with hopes for better connections to the Africatown Plaza project that will neighbor it and a better approach to connecting the development’s massive internal plaza to the area’s surrounding community.

In a packed meeting room at Seattle University, community members who spoke during the public comments portion of the night’s proceedings expressed general support for the project but many said they hoped to see more thought given to design that highlighted the corner’s place in African American culture in the city.


The future view from Cal Anderson… will need more work

Broadway Bonney-Watson development kicked forward… barely
Meanwhile on Broadway… Public comments and the board were mostly in agreement Wednesday night — the Modera Broadway project won’t need a third pass in the early phase of the design review process but it will need a lot more work before the project gets by the board. Avoiding a relatively rare third “early design guidance” review, the board required an extra hour of deliberation as it asked developer Mill Creek Residential and Weber Thompson to do even more to activate the street level design along Nagle and connect the project to Cal Anderson, ultimately deciding three votes to two that the plans were close enough at this point to advance… like we said, barely. You can check out more on the “live/work unit”-heavy design proposal signed-off on Wednesday night here.


“Street life is the most important identifying characteristic,” one public speaker said about the corner, saying she was worried the design by Weinstein A+U architects is “taking all the life and energy to the internal courtyard.” “It’s not going to be a space that generates energy itself,” she said. Another described the early massing for the project as “Eurocentric” and “very linear.” Continue reading

First look at new plan for redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center

Monday’s MLK Day 2018 marchers will pass by the site of the next major change for the neighborhood around 23rd and Union. Here are the first designs for the new mixed market-rate and “inclusive development” project planned for the Midtown Center block.

The newly released plans from architects Weinstein A+U and the Berger Partnership include room for somewhere around 429 units in 273,000 square-feet of residential space, new restaurant and commercial space surrounding a large “public plaza,” and room for nearly 300 vehicles to park below ground. Continue reading

Developers collecting ideas for ‘public square’ at 23rd and Union

Later this month, the redevelopment of 23rd and Union will continue with the first design review for the huge “inclusive development”-focused project from Lake Union Partners, Capitol Hill Housing, and Africatown set to rise above the corner currently home to Midtown Center. As the planning comes together for the mixed market-rate and affordable development, there is an opportunity for neighbors to start shaping a key element of the design.

Developers are collecting feedback on plans for a “public square” at the center of the four apartment buildings being planned for the site:

Most prominently, the project includes a public square almost 9,000 sf in size. The square is accessible from East Union Street and both 24th and 23rd Avenues. Surrounded by active retail users, the square is intended as a community gathering space during the daytime and evening hours, with special event programming from local community groups.

You can learn more about the plans and provide your suggestions for the square’s features at courb.co/midtown.

Patrick Foley of Lake Union Partners tells CHS this the first time his firm has used the coUrbanize platform on a project. Continue reading

Central District artist’s sculpture will be part of 23rd/Union redevelopment

James Washington, Jr. (Image courtesy James & Janie Washington Foundation)

A work by an important Central District African American artist will be restored in the midst of coming redevelopment set to reshape the corner of 23rd and Union.

The James and Janie Washington Foundation, a museum and art gallery to commemorate and preserve the work of James Washington Jr, announced the planned restoration of the “Fountain of Triumph” sculpture that has called the MidTown shopping center home since the 1990s.

The sculpture will temporarily move from MidTown to the foundation’s property on 26th Avenue and Denny so the Pratt Fine Arts center can restore it. When the sculpture returns to its original location, it will be part of a major new mixed-use development that will partner a for-profit developer with affordable housing and community nonprofits including Africatown.

James Washington Jr., an African American writer and artist, created “The Fountain of Triumph” in the late 1990s. He passed away in 2000 at 90 years old. Meant to be a community meeting place and focal point for unity in an ever-changing neighborhood, the sculpture will stay true to Washington Jr.’s original intent as it gets restored and placed in Africatown.

“We’re so pleased that LUP is helping to restore and return this meaningful sculpture to its original location,” said Washington Foundation board president Reverend LaVerne Hall in the announcement of the project. “We’re thrilled it will be returning it to its former glory.” Continue reading

23rd and Union development update: Notes on Africatown Plaza, Liberty Bank, and East Union’s New Seasons grocery

As developers snag every available piece of land in the booming real estate market of Central Seattle, African American community members demand a seat at the table when it comes to who fills the future Africatown portion of Midtown development at 23rd and Union. How do you address the concerns of a diverse community while understanding the history of the land the development is being built on? By meeting, bringing those voices together, and giving them a chance to express their concerns and desires for positive change.

Africatown is holding “Central Community Development Update” sessions to create a forum.

”We want to use this as a catalyst to build a database and organize and build capacity, so future projects can have greater participation,” Wyking Garrett said, addressing the Thursday evening crowd at the October update.

Garrett brought together a wide variety of voices at a meeting hosted by Africatown and held at the Casey Family Program near 23rd and Union. Garrett, a community organizer and head of the nonprofit Africatown, brought together developers and community members to give updates and discuss issues regarding continuing development of the Liberty Bank property, Midtown Center, and East Union. It was a packed meeting room, with over 75 people representing the community and unions.

Here are some of the night’s topics of discussion:

Liberty Bank Building
Crews planned to begin pouring concrete footings last week. Jill Fleming spoke on behalf of Capitol Hill Housing. She talked about possible outcomes of the Memorandum Of Understanding focusing on securing long term African American ownership in the community. The investors have a 15-year term, when that is up the nonprofit owner has the opportunity to purchase the building. In 15 years, Africatown will be able to step into that role. Part of the MOU is that they will prioritize minority and local subcontractors. CHH is working with Walsh construction out of Oregon. They currently have 30% women and minority subcontractors with 17% being African American subcontractors. The ground floor along Union will be retail with the corner space being a negotiated with a restaurant. The retail space will be affordable and marketed so CHH can maintain and preserve CD business or open space for emerging businesses. Continue reading

Plans for Africatown Plaza rise at 23rd and Union

Garrett, center, with Forterra’s Michelle Connor and Chris Persons of Capitol Hill Housing (Image: Africatown Plaza)

The newly formed Africatown Community Land Trust entered an agreement with Capitol Hill Housing and Lake Union Partners, the Seattle development company that bought the Midtown Center block in May. The announcement cements the project surrounding Lake Union’s $23.25 million deal to purchase the Central District shopping center land.

UPDATEWe have updated this information to correct an error regarding ownership of the site.

“We’re working to maintain fertile ground where a Black community that has been here for over 130 years can grow and thrive in place, K. Wyking Garrett, president of the land trust, said in an announcement of the agreements. Continue reading