Central Area Chamber of Commerce gears up for Juneteenth — and a new chapter

The chamber’s Pitre showed the mayor the neighborhood in April (Image: CHS)

On bad days, Lawrence Pitre feels like he’s just rolling a rock up a hill. Like he’s not quite honoring the legacy of DeCharlene Williams who founded the Central Area Chamber of Commerce Pitre now leads from an office in the DeCharlene’s Beauty Salon storefront on E Madison.

“There are days that I come in here and just want to close the door and go: ’Okay, DeCharlene (…) help me here. How am I supposed to do this?’” Pitre says. Before Williams died last year, Pitre promised her he would continue the chamber’s legacy of community-building in the Central District.

Though there are times Pitre feels small against the forces of displacement and gentrification of the CD, he has kept his promise. In April, DeCharlene’s Beauty Salon, and the neighboring office reopened after a renovation and chamber rebranding — the beginning of a new chapter.

The Central Area Chamber’s revival stands in stark contrast with the recent shuttering of the nearby Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and its ambitious but unsuccessful effort to create an expanded business area. 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

23rd Ave Vision Zero work not complete but street getting back to *new* normal in the Central District

(Image: SDOT)

After more than a year of construction as part of the overhaul of 23rd Ave from Montlake to the Central District, the southern end of the route is back open to vehicular traffic and the long project is moving into its final phases.

The Seattle Department of Transportation announced that 23rd Ave south of Jackson has been re-opened to two-way motor vehicle traffic though construction is still being wrapped up.

The so-called Phase 2 of the 23rd Ave Vision Zero plan began last spring to continue the effort of slimming down the corridor and adding sidewalk improvements including new paving, crosswalks, and upgraded pedestrian crossing signals, new landscaping and trees, and transit improvements including real-time arrival information and bus pullouts between Jackson and S Hill. Continue reading

East Precinct cop in Central District AutoZone ‘I got a little disrespected earlier today’ office chair incident won’t be fired

An East Precinct police sergeant was demoted after he drove his Seattle Police SUV to a Central District shopping center, unloaded an office chair, and rolled across the pavement to sit in front of the 23rd and Jackson AutoZone to wait 40 minutes for an employee to apologize for “disrespecting” him.

But he will not be fired for lying about his actions.

The Seattle Times reports that Chief Carmen Best handed down a decision last month to suspend officer Frank Poblocki 30 days for making “materially false statements” about the incident. The Times reports Best’s decision came despite SPD policy “that officers will be fired for dishonesty in their official duties — a cornerstone of rules adopted in 2008 to address community concerns about accountability.” 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

City collecting feedback on plans for E Union protected bike lanes

While the department says its designs for the project are only at the “10%” conceptual stage and big decisions about things like whether part of the route will require riders to cross sidewalks and how many if any parking spots will have to be removed, SDOT is collecting feedback on what has become a current flashpoint in Seattle’s struggles to create useful bicycle infrastructure in the city — the planned E Union protected bike lanes.

Through May 31st, the Seattle Department of Transportation is running an E Union St Protected Bike Lane Survey. The short survey asks about your current transportation habits around E Union and how you think protected bike lanes might impacts your behavior.

It also gets to the heart of the matter for many who are criticizing the plan — choose 3! 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

Renton man charged in 23rd/Cherry shootout that left victim hit in the crossfire

A Renton man is the first person charged in Seattle Police, federal, and King County Prosecutor efforts to stamp out a string of gun violence across Central and South Seattle.

Demarco Pressley, 25, faces three counts including an assault charge and two charges of unlawful possession of a firearm after being arrested in the shooting of a woman caught in the crossfire of an apparent gang dispute.

He has not yet entered a plea on the charges, according to court records.

Police say Pressley can be seen in security video from the night of May 3rd incident at the AMPM service station at 23rd and Cherry firing off a series of shots as a vehicle speeds away and returns fire along 23rd:

Continue reading

Police announce arrest in 23rd and Cherry gas station shooting — UPDATE: Guns seized

Seattle Police say they have arrested a 25-year-old Renton man for his part in a shooting at a Central District gas station earlier this month that left a woman wounded after she was apparently caught in the crossfire.

CHS is not naming the man because he has not been charged but records show he was arrested and ultimately convicted in connection with this 2011 incident in which South Seattle gang members opened fire during a vigil for a 19-year-old who had been shot and killed. Continue reading