Busy times for Central District food+drink: Communion announces opening date, Cortona to give way to Melo Cafe, plus Temple Pastries and Alexandra’s Macarons now open

Communion’s buildout in progress from this summer at 24th and Union (Image: Communion)

For all the changes in Capitol HIll’s higher profile venues through the COVID-19 crisis, the food and drink community of the Central District has also been busy with a mix of new additions and a couple sad goodbyes. And there is more to come including one of Seattle’s most highly anticipated new restaurant openings.

  • Communion: Plans for a summer opening are long gone thanks to the challenges of the pandemic and opening your own small business but Kristi Brown’s highly anticipated restaurant Communion is ready to debut at 24th and Union. Service will begin under the state’s stepped-up restrictions but the bar and restaurant in the equitably developed, affordable housing project The Liberty Bank Building will be ready when the prohibition on indoor dining is lifted. In the meantime, Communion’s menu honed from Brown’s decades of “Seattle soul” cooking will be available fpr delivery and takeout. “I would say that it really describes my journey being from Kansas City and living in Seattle and all the different neighborhoods that I’ve lived in,” Brown told CHS about her creations earlier this year. “I just take a little bit of all of those things and merge them together.” A bar from Brown’s son Damon Bomar is also part of the appeal. Opening details are coming soon with a first day of official business planned for Saturday, November 28th. You can check out @CommunionSeattle to learn more. Continue reading

Central District microhousing development targeted by Sawant ready for next phase in design review

(Image: GGLO Design)

A four-story microhousing development planned to replace a former Section 8 subsidized apartment building on 19th Ave in the Central District will move into the second and final phase of the city’s design review process with a virtual meeting Thursday.

The Cadence Real Estate project was the center of controversy when District 3 representative Kshama Sawant took on the developer over its treatment of tenants living in the The Chateau Apartments under the federal affordable housing program. Sawant claimed victory in the matter saying the movement had forced Cadence to meet with residents and make several concessions including allowing the Section 8 tenants to remain in their units in coming years until the building is eventually demolished and an “unheard of concession” — $5,000 from Cadence to every household living in the building on top of legally required relocation assistance. Continue reading

Low Income Housing Institute and Central District church collecting feedback on plan for 22nd and Union development

The Low Income Housing Institute and the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd are seeking community feedback on their plan for Good Shepherd Housing, an affordable housing development at 22nd and Union with 75 of its 100 units reserved for homeless residents.

The remaining 25 apartments are hoped to “serve the needs of low wage workers at risk of displacement from the Central Area.” Continue reading

As Seattle struggles to meet larger Black Lives Matter goals, city will transfer two more Central District properties to community ownership

Fire Station 6

Protesters outside Seattle’s emergency operations center this summer

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to transfer two long-sought Central District properties back to the community after years of hope and promises including pledges from Mayor Jenny Durkan this summer as Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations grew in Seattle.

The transfer of the Central Area Senior Center on 30th Ave and Fire Station 6 at 23rd and Yesler comes after an increased push in recent months connected to protests and demands from community groups and activists.

Africatown Community Land Trust, which has been pushing the city to transfer the property for seven years, will now have a 99-year lease on the fire station property. The organization will look to turn the decommissioned space into the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation, which advocates hope will serve as a technological hub of a community that hasn’t had as much access to the resources needed to be successful.

“This community asset will help close the gap we are already seeing in Seattle where there is an astronomical economic growth that is not resulting in all communities benefiting,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the legislation for both transfers.

Community organizer TraeAnna Holiday told CHS last month, for example, that she hopes children will be able to use 3D printers there they wouldn’t have had otherwise which could make them better candidates for local jobs.

The city designated this site as ripe for a possible cultural center four years ago, but the process was fast-forwarded after the transfer was included as one of the hyper-local demands from recent protests.

Africatown held a press conference with hundreds in attendance in front of the fire station in June, calling on the city to finally make the transfer. Continue reading

City wants your feedback on Spruce Street Mini Park overhaul

Seattle Parks is hosting an online survey and “in-person pop-up” to gather feedback on a planned renovation to the Spruce Street Mini Park, a small plot with “a modern play area, a circle of benches, and a shallow bowl of grass and trees” at Spruce and 21st Ave in the Central District:

The design team incorporated the community’s early input into the three play area concepts designs. In addition to the online survey SPR will host an informational pop-up at the park on Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide an additional input opportunity. We encourage everyone to participate online as much as you can but also invite you to meet the design team and provide feedback at this event. Due to the COVID-19 and if you choose to attend the pop-up event, face masks and social distancing is required. If you, or anyone in your family, are feeling sick or have a fever, please stay home. We want everyone to be safe.

Continue reading

More Seattle protest arrests as police move in on march in Central District after reported property damage

“What’s your name, comrade?” demonstrators shout as one of the marchers is taken into custody (Image via @R3volutionDaddy)

A protest bolstered by “a very large patio umbrella” and marchers from Portland joining Seattle demonstrators ended in a flurry of arrests Saturday night in the Central District.

Seattle Police and participants in the demonstration posting to social media reported multiple arrests around 10:30 PM after bike officers moved on the crowd as it moved through the area near 15th and Spring.

SPD said the demonstration began around 8 PM on Capitol Hill with marchers leaving Seattle Central and traveling through neighborhood streets. Police reported a small fire was set near 12th and Remington and rocks were thrown as “some demonstrators were also spray-painting parking signs and buildings as they went” using “a very large patio umbrella to obscure officers’ view of these acts of property damage.” Continue reading

Inside the Eisenberg-Neighbor Lady lawsuit: urinal cakes and $200K in bar furnishings

The battle at 23rd and Union between landlord and pot shop owner Ian Eisenberg and former tenant the Neighbor Lady bar turns out to be more than a war of words. Behind the scenes, CHS has learned Eisenberg is suing the bar owners for more than $300,000 over removed furniture and what the retail marijuana entrepreneur claims is a campaign of disparagement against him including the ultimate insult — urinal cakes bearing his likeness in use at Neighbor Lady’s sister bar, The Twilight Exit.

Lawyers for Stephan Mollman and Thomas Vivian have denied the allegation.

The lawsuit, filed in April and amended to include allegations including the urinal cake episode this summer, continues with the latest filing earlier this month moving the case forward. In it, lawyers for Eisenberg say they are seeking $200,000 over the removal of “light fixtures, neon signs, bar sinks, hooks, speakers, table tops, a bar, and a foot bar” from the bar adjacent the 23rd and Union Uncle Ike’s, as well as $50,000 each in damages from Mollman and Vivian over the disparagement allegations, as well as an additional $50,000 from the Neighbor Lady business, plus “indirect and consequential damages,” and legal costs. Continue reading

Amid progress on community ownership of Central District properties, plans for Africatown Plaza taking shape

The early preferred massing concept for Africatown Plaza (Image: GGLO)

Africatown Plaza is coming to 23rd and Spring (Image: GGLO)

Africatown Community Land Trust is working to finalize plans for its 7-story project that includes about 130 affordable housing units on 23rd and Spring in the Central District with construction estimated to begin late next year.

While the broad project timeline hasn’t been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, what has been altered is the developers ability to procure retail tenants, said real estate project manager for Africatown Muammar Hermanstyne.

“Retail is dying, no one is coming out,” Hermanstyne told CHS, adding that this has made it difficult to sign on specific Black-owned retail for the shop.

Being planned as more than 100 units of 100% affordable housing plus street-level retail and commercial space, the project will be built at 23rd and Spring on the south end of the site of the former Midtown Center. It will include around 130 affordable housing units, specifically for “those who have been displaced due to rising rents,” as well as several thousand square feet of retail space. The collaboration between Africatown Community Land Trust and Community Roots Housing is hoped to build on the success of the nearby Liberty Bank Building which opened two years ago in what many hope will be a model for equitable development in the Central District and Seattle.

The Africatown Plaza project is joined by a small ripple of progress in putting some key Central District properties into community ownership as efforts like the King County Equity Now coalition have increased the call for ownership and development opportunities for the Black community.

Community property progress
Later this month the city will likely move to transfer several important Central District properties to community ownership. After seven years, Fire Station 6 at 23rd and Yesler would go to Africatown, which will look to turn the decommissioned space into the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation.

The center, named after a local Black pioneer, will look to serve as a technological hub of a community that hasn’t had as much access to the resources needed to be successful. Community organizer TraeAnna Holiday noted, for example, that she hopes children will be able to use 3D printers there they wouldn’t have had otherwise which could make them better candidates for local jobs. Continue reading

911 | Police investigate Bellevue Ave stabbing

(Image courtesy a CHS reader)

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS 911 coverage here. Hear sirens and wondering what’s going on? Check out Twitter reports from @jseattle or tune into the CHS Scanner page.

  • Bellevue Ave stabbing: Seattle Police were investigating a stabbing at a Bellevue Ave apartment building early Monday morning. SPD and Seattle Fire were called to the address of the Belfiore Apartments in the 1700 block of Bellevue Ave just off E Olive Way around 12:30 AM after a man was reported stabbed in the leg, according to East Precinct radio updates. It was not clear what led up to the stabbing but police were looking for a female suspect in her 20s. One person was taken into custody but we haven’t yet confirmed if it was the suspect. The victim was reported as unconscious and was being treated by Seattle Fire. Continue reading

In the anarchist jurisdiction of Seattle’s Central District, a neighborhood celebrates its new post office

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Marking “a blow against the right wing attacks on social services,” community members and United States Postal Service officials gathered inside the new E Union post office Monday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Central District facility.

The new post office is “dedicated to the service of the people of the United States of America” and “represents a move in the right direction for not just post office employees, but more importantly, for this community,” Myrna Umali, president at Local 28 of the American Postal Workers Union, said before cutting the ribbon on the new retail location for the USPS. “This branch is part of the tree that represents the life of the community,” she said.

“Hopefully this will be our final destination for years to come,” USPS manager Eddie Lee Smith said. Continue reading