Liberty Bank Building

Developer and Community Groups Agree on Liberty Bank Site Project

Non-profit housing developer, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH formerly CHIP) and Africatown, the Black Community Alliance, and Centerstone recently announced they had reached an agreement of far-reaching importance. CHH, the owner and developer of the site that had been occupied by Liberty Bank, and later Key Bank, at 24th and E. Union, has agreed that ownership of the new building which CHH will build there can be, in as little as fifteen years, offered to an African-American community-based organization. Centerstone will have both a right of first offer and first right of refusal to acquire the property after fifteen years.

Centerstone, a community agency based in Squire Park for decades, has not been in the business of developing or owning housing or commercial real estate. Within the next fifteen years CHH will provide support and assistance to allow Centerstone to build necessary capacity.

Meanwhile, for at least the next fifteen yeaers, as CHH still owns the site it will work with Centerstone, Africatown, and the Black Community Alliance to ensure the commercial space of the Liberty Bank project is “designed and operated to prioritize affordability for small African American-owned businesses which meet minimum leasing criteria,” according to the four organizations.

“As the Central District has been home to the Black community in Seattle for over 130 years, we are encouraged that this project represents a model for development that honors community legacy, leverages social and cultural capital, and is an important step toward realizing the equity, shared prosperity and social justice goals of Seattle and Martin Luther King County. Mitigating displacement and maintaining affordability is critical to nurturing diversity and making Seattle a world-class city and not a one class city,” said K. Wyking Garrett, Africatown CEO and grandson of Liberty Bank co-founder Holbrooke L. Garrett.

The new building will provide about 115 affordable apartment units above approximately 3,200 square feet of commercial space. For more details on the Memorandum of Understanding see:


Liberty Bank Landmark Status Voted Down

On March 19, citing the 1968-built structure’s lack of architectural significance, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board voted 6-5 Wednesday night not to grant "landmark" status to a Central Area building that once housed what applicants, on behalf of Africatown, said should be preserved as it was the region’s first Black-owned bank, formerly the Liberty Bank, (and most recently the Key Bank building). The potential purchaser of the site, Capitol Hill Housing, told the Landmarks Board that preserving the building would prevent CHH from developing the site as a building with affordable housing for families. CHH is working with several community organizations so that the legacy of Liberty Bank is honored if it develops the site.



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