Crews began work this week to tear down the old commercial strip following a slow final year for the old buildings as the final commercial tenants moved out and chain-link fencing went up. Continue reading
Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound.
The event follows a major development in the Central District with the opening of the Liberty Bank Building and comes as the early design process for Africatown Plaza at Midtown, another fully affordable development around the 23rd and Union core, is about to begin.
“Overall, working to make sure that we still have a heart and soul and a place of unity and community,” the Africatown Community Land Trust’s K. Wyking Garrett said Saturday, before giving a shout out to last weekend’s Umoja Fest Parade, a Central Area staple since the 1940s. He wants Africatown, however, to be more than just these major celebrations, but places “where we can experience Black culture, Black music, Black culinary genius from throughout the diaspora.” Continue reading
The design review board has given its final blessings to the plans for Midtown: Public Square, a three-piece, seven-story apartment development with more than 400 apartment units, a quasi-public central plaza, and underground parking for around 250 vehicles set to rise above the land home to the old shopping center.
In December, the project was kicked back in the design process over concerns about the large installations of art panels hoped to help the project better reflect the culture and the history of the Central District. Continue reading
As much as some neighbors may be looking forward to the demolition of the old Midtown Center shopping strip at 23rd and Union, the end isn’t much to celebrate. You can feel the missing systematic safety net for Seattle’s small businesses as one small shop owner struggles to sort out what comes next. Other changes will be inconvenient and, for some, further evidence that Seattle — and the Central District — is tossing aside community elements as it reaches for continued growth and development.
“Please help me. Please don’t forget about me,” Saad Ali pleads. The owner of the 99 Cents Plus store in the now mostly vacant shopping center is happy to finally hear from a journalist. Attention from Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has helped, he says, but it hasn’t helped him find a new place to move his store or any opportunities for grants or financial assistance to weather the change. More useful, he says, has been recent conversations with a few officials from City Hall who are looking into ways to help Ali move.
With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.
Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.
December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District. Continue reading
What is hoped to be the final step in the design review process for the redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center is slated for December but the companies and groups working on the project are holding two community “conversations” this week to meet with neighbors about the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment building with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles.
Developer Lake Union Partners is hosting a set of meetings — one Wednesday night and one Saturday — to “explore community opportunities at the Midtown project site” —
Change set to split the community around 23rd and Union among those who consider it a central part of the neighborhood’s social fabric and those who will be happy to see it go is finally coming. Preliminary paperwork has been filed for the demolition of Midtown Center.
The six demolition permit applications filed October 4th aren’t anywhere near approval from the City of Seattle but the paperwork is yet another reminder that the corner is set for its latest and biggest transformation yet.
The permits cover the existing and still operating commercial buildings in the center as well as the empty residential structures on the block and the small cafe in the middle of the parking lot. “Commercial bldg. (The small café). I don’t know the address, perhaps 2301 23rd Ave,” the application for that demolition reads. Continue reading
Central District community organization Africatown will receive a $82,500 grant from the city to continue its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.
The grant was part of some $900,000 in funding awarded across the city announced Wednesday through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Neighborhood Matching Fund. Continue reading
Public comment and the East Design Review Board aligned Wednesday night in agreement that the latest designs for the proposed redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center did not meet expectations for recognizing the history and the culture of African Americans and Black Seattle at 23rd and Union.
The “portals” that open to the street from Midtown: Public Plaza are still not open enough to foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood and to support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside — the building needs to do more than utilize masonry to recognize African American-style architecture from the neighborhood — the design needs more “Afro-centric” colors and patterns and, as currently designed, looks too “South Lake Union” — features like the open plazas and a proposed video screen installation to showcase local arts and history need to have more fleshed out programming plans — a proposal to keep costs down on the three building development with connecting skywalks and fewer elevators and stairs needs more thought — and more.
They also agreed on something else.
The review board covering neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Montlake, and First Hill wasn’t necessarily the best body to make the decision.
“How is the Central Area design team not looking at this?,” one speaker asked during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s night’s review, the final stage for the project in the city’s public design process. She also stated the obvious — each member of the design board Wednesday night was white. Continue reading
At least one person was shot in the leg and bullet casings were found spread across the intersection after a volley of gunfire from a vehicle that quickly sped away from 23rd and Spring Tuesday night.
Police and Seattle Fire rushed to the area just before 6:40 PM after multiple reports of shots fired on a night when most of the booms reported to 911 are fireworks. Continue reading