New Developments in the Neighborhood

The Central Area Land Use Review Committee is a group of local residents, including (but not only) design professionals whose aim is to influence the shape of future developments in the neighborhood.

For more information, and to get up to date notice on future meeting dates see the Facebook page of the Central Area Land Use Review Committee.

Recent meetings of the LURC have included engaging with the developer and designer of the project that will bring big changes to the site of Pratt Fine Arts, impacting Pratt Park and Jackson Street.  The development would expand space for the arts center by about 75%, bring 160 new apartment homes (no plans for any “affordable” units), and add retail space on Jackson Street.   (To see the documents filed with City Planning:  https://tinyurl.com/y9ktbqrd

Also, in March, the developer and design team for the project proposed at 12th and Yesler accepted an invitation from LURC to meet with community members.  That proposed project will displace the buildings in which Seattle Curtain, Saba and Universal Auto Body are currently located.  The proposal is for a single building with about 280 – 290 apartments, eleven live/work units, and approximately four retail spaces totaling 12,400 square feet.  The developer's representative has stated that there’s no plan at this time to design units attractive to families with children. The Early Design Guidance meeting for this project is scheduled for April 25, at 6:30 PM in Rm. 103, Pigott Building, Seattle U.  For documents see: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/toolsresources/Map/detail/default.htm?lat=47.6019244&lon=-122.31642918&addr=104,,,12TH,AVE,

The Early Design Guidance meeting is an important opportunity for neighbors to see and comment on design proposals.  Be there and express your thoughts.

The 12th and Yesler project is adjacent to the King County Archives and King County Records buildings.  The records site has been sold to the Seattle Housing Authority which is in the early stages of planning a development of about 100 apartments intended to serve families with children.

The County Archives Building is on a different site, which is located between the two developments discussed above, and it is still in the hands of King County.  This is the case even though it would seem to be an appealing location for a park or open space which would enhance the Seattle Housing Authority’s plans for a new child-friendly community directly across from Bailey Gatzert School.

For First Time, Central Area gets its own Design Guidelines

Several community organizations, over the past two years, have worked with the City to develop design guidelines to be applied by City staff and the Design Review Board to future major building developments in the Central area.  The City Council committee took up the proposed guidelines at its March 21 meeting.  The date for future Council consideration is not known at the time of this writing. For more information on the Guidelines, see:  https://tinyurl.com/yb4kep2b


April 2018: 50th Anniversary of Seattle Black Panther Party

This April marks the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party (SBPP). Throughout the month, there are many events scheduled in the neighborhood to celebrate the history of the SBPP and its future goal: "to cement the legacy, history and accomplishments of the Seattle chapter of the BPP in the hearts and minds of the people of Seattle as an example of effective struggle for future revolutionaries."

Founded in April 1968, The Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party was founded by a collection of Seattle activists including brothers Aaron and Elmer Dixon, following a series of events that included the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the murder of Bobby Hutton days later.  Hutton was the first member of the Black Panther Party to die at the hands of Oakland police; along with a series of frustrating, angering and racially motivated acts against Blacks in Seattle.   At one point, the Seattle Chapter membership approached 300.  The Chapter founding raised the level of struggle, resistance, and Black consciousness in Seattle. 

During its most formative period, the Seattle Chapter sponsored free breakfast programs for all children, education programs, and established the first free medical clinic in Seattle’s Black community, originally named the Sydney Miller Free Medical Clinic, after a fallen Seattle Panther, and later known as the Carolyn Downs Family Medical Clinic, still in operation today at the corner of E Yesler & 21st Ave!

Among numerous events throughout April, the celebration culminates the weekend of April 26-27-28 with the 50th Anniversary Conference & Celebration with events at Washington Hall, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and the Northwest African American Museum. Check out the website for an entire listing of events and information: https://www.seattlebpp50.com/


New Seasons Market Planned for 23rd & Union, But is it the Right Choice?

Developer Lake Union Partners recently announced that Portland-based grocery chain New Seasons Market will open a store at the northwest corner of 23rd & Union in 2019. Many local residents are upset that New Seasons was chosen without community input and despite controversy around the company’s labor practices and business ties. 

At a public meeting last October, Monisha Harrell challenged Lake Union Partners, saying that New Seasons is “exactly the opposite of what we said would benefit this community and this is what you’re trying to sell us.” Harrell had previously helped to identify community needs at 23rd and Union as a consultant for the City of Seattle.

In an interview with ARCADE magazine last year, Lake Union Partners’ Patrick Foley more or less admitted that New Seasons is not what the community wanted: “With our East Union project, the community was worried we were going to put in a high-end grocery store that the average citizen cannot afford. That’s challenging for us because we … we can’t be the ones setting the store’s prices.” A recent price comparison revealed that New Seasons is up to twice as expensive as Safeway for many products. 

Some fear that New Seasons will escalate gentrification and displacement. According to the Oregonian, New Season’s former Chief Development Officer, Jerry Chevassus said “(New Seasons) targets neighborhoods in the process of gentrification...Often, the addition of a New Seasons will push rents and home values higher, adding to that process.”

There is also concern about one of New Seasons’ investors, the Murdock Charitable Trust. Murdock has contributed millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker, and anti-choice organizations. New Seasons’ expansion in Seattle could ultimately send profits to the Murdock Trust and help fund extremist organizations that actively undermine our shared values.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers across Portland have been organizing for living wages, safe staffing, a reasonable sick leave policy, and a voice on the job. Tyhler Williams has worked in New Seasons’ Central Kitchen for over 3 years and still makes the company’s minimum wage. Under the company’s sick leave policy, some workers say they feel pressured to work sick -- or risk being fired. Instead of meeting with workers to discuss their concerns, the company hired Cruz and Associates, a self-proclaimed “union avoidance firm” with a record of contracting with workers’ rights violators like the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Nonetheless, Portland New Seasons workers have continued to organize for improvements in their stores. 

Here in Seattle, over 30 community groups, electeds, and faith-based organizations have come together to form the Good Jobs Coalition. The coalition is demanding that New Seasons respect workers’ rights and work with Lake Union Partners to address the community’s concerns about gentrification and affordable food.

To learn more about the Good Jobs Coalition in the Central District, visit http://GoodJobsCoalition.com.




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