What really happened at The Neighbor Lady: A non-disparagement agreement, an alleged political feud, and a new home at 23rd and Union

(Image: CHS)

Central District dive bar The Neighbor Lady has plans to open in a new location across the street from its longtime home as part of the Midtown: Public Square development.

The vegetarian-friendly comfort food bar has officially moved out of its 23rd and Union spot after its lease was not renewed — and there appears to be two sides to the story including pot shop offices worried about odors from a dive bar, a dispute over Egan Orion campaign posters, and an alleged District 3 political feud playing out among business neighbors at 23rd and Union.

In January, CHS first reported on The Neighbor Lady losing its lease inside the building connected to the Uncle Ike’s pot shop complex at this key corner in the Central District.

Neighbor Lady co-owner Stephan Mollmann tells CHS the bar was “kicked out,” while landlord and Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg cites a new use for the space as the reason behind his decision to replace the bar. Continue reading

2020 Seattle Black Film Festival streams this weekend

Delayed and moved online by the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle Black Film Festival begins Friday with a streamed schedule of screenings and events. The delay makes for a timely arrival of Langston’s annual festival after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle and also means a busy weekend for film as the city gets a slow, cooler start start to summer.

No tickets are required to participate in all festival events, but donations to Langston are encouraged. You can find a full schedule and more information at langstonseattle.org.

While the online experience might lack some of the social aspects of attending the festival in person, an online film festival can match much of the urgency of making your way through a packed schedule of screenings and speakers. The event is streamed as a live festival — not an on demand archive: Continue reading

Police investigating after ‘incendiary’ fire at Central District Uncle Ike’s

(Image: Uncle Ike’s)

The Uncle Ike’s shopping complex at the corner of 23rd and Union suffered $5,000 in damage in a suspected overnight arson fire.

Seattle Fire tells CHS their investigation determined the early morning Sunday fire was “incendiary” in nature meaning it was likely intentionally set.

Crews were called to the retail shop just before 2:30 AM after an automatic fire alarm was triggered. Arriving firefighters found light smoke coming from a rooftop vent and transitioned the call to a full response and bringing several trucks to the scene.

The fire was quickly taken care of and three people inside the shop were reported to have exited on their own without injury. Continue reading

Police investigating string of arson fires in Central District and South Seattle — UPDATE

The Seattle Police Department is investigating after a string of arson fires across the southern edges of the Central District and South Seattle Tuesday.

Seattle Fire tells CHS that it responded to multiple fires through the day and into the evening Wednesday and investigators have determined that at least six were intentionally set. CHS has mapped the fires where the Seattle Fire Marshal was dispatched to investigate. SFD says more of the fires could turn out to be arsons. Continue reading

Juneteenth in Seattle: Freedom March in the Central District, Blackout healing at the CHOP

The Buffalo Soldiers Of Seattle, 9th-10th Cavalry from a Seattle Juneteenth past (Image: Karen Toering)

A Friday of actions to mark Juneteenth will further efforts to re-center Seattle’s ongoing demonstrations on the city’s Black community and Black Lives Matter goals,

In the Central District, leaders from Africatown and the King County Equity Now coalition will rally at 22nd and Madison for a march to Jimi Hendrix Park and a day of rallies, a teach-in, and a celebration of Black graduates.

Juneteenth Freedom March

The Africatown-led King County Equity Now coalition has emerged from the protests with a roster of demands for officials to accept proposals from “Black-led, community-based organizations to maximize” the use of “underutilized public land for community benefit” at a roster of Central Seattle properties. Continue reading

With vow to prevent ‘Retail Racism,’ PCC opens in the Central District

(Image: PCC)

(Image: PCC)

(Image: PCC)

Six years ago, the corner was a gas station and a quick market full of chips, soda, and beer. Wednesday, a new grocery store finally opened at 23rd and Union.

In a city consumed by weeks of Black Lives Matter protests and months of COVID-19 restrictions, PCC Community Markets marked a quiet opening of its first store in the Central District, Seattle’s core of Black history and culture where waves of redevelopment and rising costs have reshaped the communities that call it home.

“We heard from many people in the neighborhood that they had experienced retail racism. We want our store to be a place where everyone is respected while shopping,” the Seattle-based cooperative grocery chain’s opening announcement reads. “As a result, we trained all of our staff at Central District PCC on implicit bias and how to prevent retail racism. We are rolling this training out to all of our stores.” Continue reading

Spurred by Seattle protests, city says will finally transfer Central District’s Fire Station 6 to Africatown — UPDATE

(Image: Joe Mabel/City of Seattle)

Seattle’s crises of 2020 have caused major disruptions, delays, and postponements. But they have also accelerated and unstuck some changes that should have happened in the city long ago.

Friday, the City of Seattle announced it will transfer the Fire Station 6 property at 23rd Ave and Yesler to community ownership, clearing the way for an Africatown-led redevelopment plan after more than seven years of process over the decommissioned facility.

“We at the City of Seattle understand the urgency behind making bold investments in the Black community and increasing community ownership of land in the Central District,” the brief announcement reads. “The City believes in the vision behind the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation and we remain committed to making the transfer of Fire Station 6 to the community a reality.” Continue reading

‘More economic empowerment in the community’ — A Black church is leaving the Central District and a Black developer has a $6.9M plan for new growth

Coming next: Eight stories next to Uncle Ike’s

There are hopes and plans for a set of Central District properties to be put into service for the community and to help Black residents, businesses, and community groups thrive there. A key property near 23rd and Union will take a different path with similar goals.

The team of Gardner Global and its Onpoint real estate firm has announced it moving forward with a plan to create an eight-story mixed-use development on the land currently home to the Mount Calvary Christian Center. The effort would create a new corridor of growth for the Black-owned developer at the core of rapid economic investment in the Central District.

“We are living in unprecedented times,” Jaebadiah Gardner, CEO of Gardner Global, said in the announcement. “Our current events have shown us why our mission of building wealth for Black and Brown communities are so important and we are excited to have partners onboard who share this vision.” Continue reading

At E Cherry’s Central Cafe, a call to the community to support Black-owned businesses

Bridget Johnson (Image: Gabrielle Locke)

By Gabrielle Locke, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

“COVID-19 can be a double-edged sword,” Bridget Johnson, owner of Central Café and Juice Bar, says. On one side, she has seen more professionals who work from home. “We hope that the customers we have gained continue to be loyal,” Johnson said.

Born early in 2020 before the pandemic delivered its hard hit to the Seattle region, Central Cafe’s short life on E Cherry has been an eventful one as its Central District community is also now full of energy and protest.

In these mindful times, Johnson says she makes conscious decisions about supporting local and preserving the environment with every aspect of running her cafe.

After helping her daughter with a project uncovering issues of pollution, Johnson and her family became more aware and thoughtful about how they can contribute to eco-friendly practices. It became important for her to support vendors who have those same values. The packaging all the way down to the business stickers is compostable and biodegradable.

Her passion for creative freedom in the kitchen translates into the menu. She jokes that her process is just like “dinking around trying to find what works and what doesn’t” and shares that, “It’s the best part. I want to find out what our customers want and then create that.” After learning that some locals eat Keto or Vegan diets, she came out with breakfast options to satisfy their dietary needs with cauliflower made sandwich wraps and switches, daily from a meat to vegetarian soup. Johnson also only supports local small businesses by offering their products at her café. Continue reading