Community leaders address gentrification in Seattle’s queer landscape

By Elizabeth Turnbull

In addition to celebrations in honor of Pride, Real Change and KVRU 105.7 FM hosted a panel this week to explore why queer Seattle also feels gentrified and why BIPOC queer people are not always protected and safe.

Several queer BIPOC community leaders spoke at the panel including Aleksa Manila, Leinani Lucas, LC, and Moni Tep while Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter, the station manager at KVRU, and Guy Oron, staff reporter at Real Change, co-moderated the event.

Gentrification was a center of conversation and panelists talked about how the queer neighborhoods in the city have shifted, moving from Renton Hill and Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill where ongoing changes and gentrification have taken place.

“I no longer see a sea of family-owned queer-owned brown-owned businesses,” Aleksa Manila, the founder of Pride Asia said at the panel. “… I can only think of two very specific queer POC owned businesses, or a handful [that are still there].”

In their place, Aleksa said she sees corporate-owned businesses—surrounded by housing that many queer BIPOC people can no longer afford. Continue reading

Village Gardens — Seattle’s first ‘Community Preference’ homes — ready to hit Central District real estate market

(Image: Village Gardens)

(Image: Village Gardens)

The expansion of light rail to the Eastside and opening of Judkins Park Station may be slightly delayed but growth and development in the area has already moved quickly ahead. A development on Yakima Ave S and a 15 minute walk from the station is hoped to help provide new homes for buyers to help slow displacement and rising costs in the area.

Mayor Bruce Harrell was on hand last week to cut the ribbon in front of the new Village Gardens development where ten of the new homes are reserved for income-restricted buyers and six are being sold at market rate in a project built on land provided by the City of Seattle for affordable housing, and funded by a public investment of $2.3 million including $1.2 million from the Seattle Housing Levy.

The homes will be the first in the city to be sold under Community Preference Policy, creating opportunity for those with historic ties to the neighborhood the first opportunity to purchase. Continue reading

Africatown Plaza — a ‘cultural anchor’ against ‘the tide of displacement in the Central District’ — to break ground at 23rd and Spring

(Image: Africatown Plaza)

A community groundbreaking ceremony Saturday will mark the start of construction on Africatown Plaza, the 100% affordable mixed-use development set to rise and fill in the southern end of the Midtown Square block with a project from the Africatown Community Land Trust and Community Roots Housing.

“Africatown Plaza will continue a legacy of community building on the site of the former Umoja PEACE Center, the grassroots, Black-led community organization where the Africatown Seattle movement began over a decade ago,” the announcement of Saturday’s event reads.

Africatown Plaza Groundbreaking
Saturday, February 05, 2022
12:00 pm
23rd and Spring

The groundbreaking will be emceed by TraeAnna Holiday and will feature DJ Zeta Barber, Javoeon Byrd of Awodi Drumming, performances of the Black National Anthem and a spoken word piece. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, Representative Kirstin Harris-Talley, Councilman Girmay Zahilay, and leaders on the project are expected to deliver remarks.

The organizations say the planned seven-story mixed use development is an extension of the partnership between Africatown and Community Roots that builds on their previous collaboration in the Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union which opened four years ago in what many hope will be a model for equitable development in the Central District and Seattle.

Africatown Plaza is “an effort to build another cultural anchor and stem the tide of displacement in the Central District,” the organizations say. Continue reading

Also at Midtown Square, 138 affordable units and an All the Best Pet Care

A promotion picture for the new Midtown Square apartment units. Of the more than 400 units available, 138 are income restricted (Image: Midtown Square)

(Image: All The Best Pet Care)

What goes into developing a for-profit, mixed-use apartment complex in the core of Seattle and a neighborhood with communities striving to address crises around displacement and gentrification? CHS reported details today of Midtown Square’s unique anchor tenant — Arté Noir arts center — at the center of the project.

But the development will also fill simpler needs in the area. The latest new business joining the project will make residents lined up for the pet-friendly apartment units and surrounding neighbors with furry friends happy. Construction permits have been filed for a new All The Best Pet Care to join the 23rd Ave side of the project. The chain has 15 other locations around the city including one on E Madison.

The new shop will join Arté Noir and a mix of neighborhood and BIPOC-owned businesses including a second location of the Jerk Shack Caribbean restaurant on the edge of the development’s internal plaza, So Beautiful Salon from Shavonne Bland, a Central District resident and Garfield High grad, along 23rd Ave, a new home for Raised Doughnuts on 24th Ave, and a new home for neighborhood bar The Neighbor Lady.

Meanwhile, leasing has begun on Midtown Square’s 428 market-rate and affordable apartment units, surrounding a quasi-public central plaza, and above a huge underground parking garage. Continue reading

Arté Noir arts center creating a space to grow ‘Black art, artists, and culture’ at 23rd and Union

This work from artist Takiyah Ward will grace the development’s central square — “A past, present, future timeline of what was, what is and what can be if people look to humanity and treat their neighbors as they would themselves want to be treated. To tell the colorful history of this block with images and words that have stood the tests of time and aided in the perseverance of all who encounter them. To tell the truth of our past, live in our present and set intentions for the future.” (Image: Midtown Square)

Myron Curry’s portraits — including this image of CD legend DeCharlene Williams of the Central Area Chamber of Commerce and D’Charlene’s — grace the building’s 23rd Ave-facing street front (Image: Midtown Square)

Construction is nearly complete on the Midtown Square apartment complex. Leasing for the mix of market rate and affordable apartments is beginning. And Arté Noir, a new Central District arts center focused on “Black art, artists, and culture,” is getting ready to fill the core ground floor commercial space, a one of a kind “anchor tenant” for the new development.

“Honing in on the vision, creating a business structure that takes us from a lease to ownership at the end of the lease, and raising the needed funds to support the plan we have for creating a permanent home for Black arts and culture in a reparative wealth generating structure, have all been challenging,” founder and editor-in-chief of Arté Noir Vivian Phillips said.

With the launch of an online magazine in May 2021, Arté Noir formed as a way to bring attention to the city’s creators and is now preparing to bring the same spirit to a real world center with room for art, artists, and the community.

Arté Noir seeks to contribute to Black culture in the Central District. “Being from the Central District and having watched the numerous changes, I want the message to be that Black culture remains a significant part of the foundation and fabric of this community,” Phillips said.

CHS reported late last year on the unique set of circumstances that led developer Lake Union Partners to tab Phillips and the arts center and gallery plan for the Midtown project’s key retail space after years of planning for a major drugstore chain. Continue reading

Design review: The Central District’s Acer House and its Afrofuturist plans at 23rd and Cherry

(Image: CHS)

Imagine this: five-and-a-half stories of apartments in an Afrofuturist design on 23rd and Cherry with thousands of square feet of childcare and other retail spaces with a public courtyard. Of the 120 apartments, which range in size from about 400-square-foot studios to two-bedroom units between 700 and 800, 30% would be reserved for low-income residents.

Thursday night, the proposed Acer House project will move forward with its first pass through the Seattle design review process:


2210 E Cherry St

Design Review Early Design Guidance for a 5-story, 120-unit apartment building with 4 live-work units, childcare, and retail. No parking proposed. Project relies on a contract rezone. View Design Proposal  (23 MB)    

Review Meeting: June 10, 2021 5:00 PM

Meeting: https://bit.ly/Mtg3037717 Listen Line: 206-207-1700 Passcode: 187 663 1617
Comment Sign Up: https://bit.ly/Comments3037717

Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance

Project Number: 3037717  View Related Records

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Planner: David Sachs — Email comments to [email protected]


Kateesha Atterberry, founder of the Urban Black commercial property management firm working on the development, says the team wants a childcare provider focused on “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.” Commercial spaces will likely include the existing Flowers Just 4 U, which might be the only Black-owned florist in the Pacific Northwest, with Atterberry saying she would additionally like to see a recording studio and other artists in the five micro retail spaces for small businesses.

On top of the housing affordability, Atterberry also hopes the project, known as Acer House, can be commercially affordable.

“Creating vibrant communities where businesses can thrive and contribute to the local economy is dependent upon them being able to afford the spaces they are in,” Atterberry told CHS in an email. “Our goal is to provide affordable leasing terms and access to resources for additional support. We believe in partnering with businesses to ensure their success because their success is our success.” Continue reading

Amazon Fresh grocery store making plans for 2020 opening in the Central District

(Image: Vulcan Real Estate)

With its city and its Central District neighborhood grappling with issues of equity and gentrification in a summer of Black Lives Matter protest, the new Amazon Fresh grocery coming to 23rd and Jackson will mark an interesting milestone when it opens later this year.

Typically secretive, the Seattle retail and tech giant has yet to confirm the Central District plans CHS unearthed in February describing a new 25,000-square-foot grocery store under construction in the massive Vulcan development underway at the corner where the neighborhood Red Apple and a collection of shopping center businesses used to stand.

But its latest permitting efforts confirm what the company’s PR department won’t — Amazon is opening a new grocery store at 23rd and Jackson. Continue reading

On 19th Ave, church plans seven stories of affordable housing for seniors ‘displaced due to gentrification’

Mount Zion Housing Development, the real estate and housing arm of the 19th and Madison baptist church, has unveiled details of its planned seven story, 62-unit affordable senior housing project planned for its property just north of the church.

The 1700-block 19th Ave development is being planned for “seniors who have been displaced or who are at risk of being displaced due to gentrification in the Seattle Central District area” and would be a coordinated facility with the nearby E Madison Samuel B. McKinney Manor. Continue reading

Forum to discuss ‘truth about changes in the Central District’

An event Saturday morning seeks to give people an opportunity to “share your truth about changes in the Central District” —

City of Seattle department directors want to hear directly from you. Share your stories on how the African-American community has been impacted by the drastic changes in the Central District and how the loss of community and culture has affected your life.

The Impact 2020: Central District Community Conversation takes place Saturday at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute on 17th Ave S in an event hosted by the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, Northwest African American Museum, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Impact 2020: Central District Community Conversation

The event comes amid continued redevelopment of Central District and with the Black population falling below 20% in the neighborhood. 50 years ago, more than 70% of the area’s population was Black.

Developer behind 23rd Ave church land buy and mixed-use project says ‘contending gentrification in Seattle’s Central District’

Jaebadiah Gardner

Gardner Global and its Onpoint real estate firm have announced more details of the 23rd Ave church property purchase and development plans CHS reported on earlier this month.

“We have an unbelievable opportunity to be creative in a way that gives back,” Jaebadiah Gardner, CEO of Gardner Global said in the company’s announcement of the project. “Our company slogan is #letsbuildwealth and this project is an example of how we are doing exactly that. Through this project. we’re providing non- traditional real estate investors an opportunity to be directly involved in the ownership.” Continue reading