Midtown Commons

23rd & Union / Midtown Center Updates

The agreement to purchase and develop the 23rd and E. Union (Midtown Center) site described in this newsletter and other sources in December is not currently going forward. 

The Early Design Guidance meeting attracted a standing-room only crowd to hear a presentation for a project comprising a seven-story building to accommodate around 440 housing units and retail space including a 30,000 square-foot grocery store at the corner of 23rd and Union and a large pharmacy fronting Union just east of the grocery store.  A design including space for up to nine additional small scale retail spaces was presented.

Prior to the EDG, meeting the developer indicated in public meetings that they planned to participate in more than the usual two Design Review Board meetings because of the importance of hearing from and responding to the public.

The initial proposal had included the possibility that a portion of the site could be acquired by the community-based organization Africatown, but in mid-February, the developers Lennar Multifamily Communities and Regency Centers announced that the agreement between them and the property owners, the Bangasser family trust, had come to an end without a purchase having been finalized.

On March 3, at a community meeting called by Africatown, their spokesperson, Wyking Garrett told the public that he saw continued opportunity for Africatown to share in the ownership of the development of the site with a different purchaser.  At that meeting, a representative of Forterra, a non-profit corporation with decades of experience in complex land transactions, indicated that Forterra was prepared to “fully back” the effort spearheaded by Africatown to participate as an owner in the development of the site.

On that same day, March 3rd, on its website, Forterra further explained its position: http://Forterra.org/editorial/forterra-africatown-make-offer-23rd-union

In summary, the joint statement is that “Forterra and Africatown Community Land Trust are working together to secure a continued place for the historically-black community in Seattle’s Central District.  We hope to team in the redevelopment of Midtown Center, … and have made a proactive, pragmatic offer to purchase the property after another buyer’s offer was withdrawn.”

The statement goes on to say that redevelopment of the site “one of the last large blocks available for redevelopment in the CD, … if done right can help stem the displacement of current residents and ensure the continuity of the neighborhood’s rich African American history.”

However, The Capitol Hill Blog reported on an ongoing dispute between Africatown’s Black Dot and Bangasser’s Midtown Center Partnership as a result of the partnership’s attempts to block Black Dots continued access to their work space there. More details can be found at   http://CapitolHillSeattle.com/2017/03/black-dot-dispute-clouds-future-of...

In the meantime, the eviction of UMOJA Peace Center from in the Midtown Center block was completed despite protestors on Wednesday, March 15th, the same day that Wyking Garrett reportedly stated that the locks on the Black Dot space have been changed by the property owners.   More on this can also be found at http://CapitolHillSeattle.com/2017/03/standoff-at-24th-and-spring-in-evi....

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Seven Stories, 440 New Unites Planned for 23rd and Union

In October, The Lennar Corporation, a housing developer based in Miami, Florida, filed with the City Department of Construction and Inspection, plans to transform the Central Area site known as MidTown Commons --- the oversize block at the southeast corner of the intersection of 23rd Avenue and E.  Union Street. 

To build the planned four hundred forty new units Lennar will be requesting a rezone of the site from the current 40- foot height limit to an 85- foot height limit.  This is greater than the 65- foot limit contained in the Urban Design Framework/Rezone proposal arrived at through the last two years of a community process known as the 23rd Avenue Action Plan.  With the exception of the additional height, it is expected that the proposal will be generally consistent with the UDF of the 23rd Avenue Action Plan.

The development will include commercial space on the ground floor and approximately 480 underground parking spaces.  All the structures currently on the site would be demolished.  Plans for the James Washington artwork on the site are not known at this time.

At the time of this writing the developer had not publicly announced details of the proposed design or whether or not local community partners will be involved.  It is expected that more will be known in advance of the Early Design Guidance meeting scheduled for January 4, 2017.  (8:00 PM Student Center Room 210, Seattle University.)

To get more up-to-date details see the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections Web site for Project 3025474 

http://tinyurl.com/zm9sgrf                                             

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