Lots of action at 23rd & Union the heart of Africatown-Central District over the last week. There were several meetings about the future development of the community as well as some major moves on the monopoly board. More to come.
Ian Eisenberg, who already owns the car wash and Med Mix properties at 23rd and Union, has purchased the vacant lot on the southwest corner of the intersection and the building that houses the Neighbor Lady.
CDNews has also learned that the post office officially sent notice to southeast corner owner Tom Bangasser that they will vacate their space on the corner in January 2014.
The news comes on the heels of anannouncement from Capitol Hill Housing, which intends to redevelop the Key Bank property at 24th and Union into a mixed-use affordable housing building.
Eisenberg hopes to secure financing for the planned mixed-use building that was designed for the southwest corner, but has been stalled since the recession hit. That project, led by developer Jim Mueller, passed design review in August 2008. Mueller sold the property and design to Eisenberg’s 23rd Avenue Capital Management LLC for $2.3 million in December.
Eisenberg said he is “lining up financing” and hopes to break ground as soon at the summer if he is successful.
“Our goal is to get it done before the two years”,” he said, referring to the building permits for the project that could expire if too much time passes without breaking ground.
Eisenberg said he also purchased the building between his corner property that houses Med Mix and the Key Bank. Currently the home of the Neighbor Lady, the building housed Thompson’s Point of View for decades. Longtime owner Derryl Durden and partners sold the property to Eisenberg for $1.025 million in December.
Sisters in Common—a mental health and counseling organization that has operated out of the upstairs of the building for years—will be moving out, said Eisenberg. However, the Neighbor Lady will stay, and Eisenberg does not expect any changes to the property any time soon.
Meanwhile, the future of the southeast corner shopping center is very tenuous following today’s news that the post office will leave in one year. Since the post office anchors the shopping center, and the odds of finding another tenant to rent the same amount of space are low, property owner Tom Bangasser is planning to get the ball rolling on a rezone. He is hoping the rezone could allow buildings as tall as 65 feet, the same height as the stalled project across the street. The rezone will make the property much more likely to find a developer.
“Now is the time that community goes to work on the future plans for the neighborhood,” said Bangasser. He said he already spoke to tenants, and they plan to hold a community meeting soon to discuss the future of the corner.
“I intend to engage anybody and everybody,” he said.
It is still unclear whether any of these projects will find the financing to move forward with redevelopment. But the commonly held belief among property owners is that once one project comes through, the rest could follow suit quickly. Will 2013 be the year that 23rd and Union starts its dramatic rebuild? We’ll have to wait and see.
Centraldistrictnews.com also reported on the sale of the Keybank building.
There is more change coming for 23rd and Union. The KeyBank building at the intersection is being acquired by nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing and will be redeveloped as “mixed-use and affordable housing,” according to the announcement sent out Wednesday afternoon and posted below.
The bank will continue to operate into April before operations are consolidated at other area branches, according to the announcement.
A bank has operated at the site for decades including the Liberty Bank, started in 1968 as a black-owned bank.
The plan for development comes as some of the more ambitious projects for 23rd and Union were iced by economic downturn. Residents and business owners in the area met in December to work together to help foster growth and safety at the intersection. The post office, a key component of the area, appears destined to remain at its location for the time being. Other, smaller investments have also helped keep the area active including the 2012 opening of Med Mix and the debut of The Neighbor Lady last spring. But investment also means change. The Neighbor Lady took over the space of longtime favorite Thompson’s Point of View after tax and business issues forced the restaurant’s closure.
Troubled by a series of violent incidents, the corner saw a fast turnaround in crime levels in recent years. Many credit SPD’s Drug Market Initiative in 2009 for playing a key role in the decline.
Though, along with crime activity, community activity of any kind hit a low period that lasted years. At one point in 2010, three of the the four corner properties were vacant.
The nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing develops and operates affordable apartment buildings across Capitol Hill and Seattle. Its most recent project — The Jefferson at 12th and Jefferson —opened this fall. The developer’s next big effort will be the 12th Ave Arts building on Capitol Hill that will transform the current East Precinct parking lot into an apartment and office building with a theater facility — and parking for SPD.
No timetable for development at 23rd and Union was included in the announcement but design and environmental review will need to come before any construction begins. We’ll try to more about timing and CHH’s plans for the property in the interim.
CAPITOL HILL HOUSING TO BUY AND REDEVELOP
KEYBANK BRANCH IN CENTRAL AREA
Seattle – January 16, 2013 – Capitol Hill Housing has tentatively agreed to buy KeyBank’s Central District branch building and property at 2320 E. Union St., Seattle, for redevelopment as mixed-use and affordable housing.
Capitol Hill Housing, a KeyBank client since 1976, had expressed interest in the property in the past. When KeyBank recently decided to consolidate its Central District branch with its Capitol Hill office less than a mile away, it offered to sell the site to Capitol Hill Housing at a rate well below its assessed market value.
Capitol Hill Housing owns and operates nearly 1,200 affordable apartments in 44 buildings throughout the city, ranging from historic renovations to award-winning new developments. KeyBank has participated in financing six of its properties.
“Capitol Hill Housing is pleased to have the opportunity to develop affordable housing at this site and acquire the property from KeyBank at a price considerably below its market value. As rents continue to rise in the neighborhood, the need for affordable apartments is critical,” said Christopher Persons, CEO of Capitol Hill Housing. “We look forward to working with the Central Area community as we move this project forward.”
KeyBank advised branch employees and clients last week of its plans to consolidate the Central District branch with its Capitol Hill branch at 321 15th Avenue East.
Despite considerable investment in the Central District branch, most recently a 2007 interior and exterior modernization, KeyBank has been unable to generate the projected return on that investment.
“We’ve decided to consolidate our business in the Capitol Hill branch, but we care about this community and want to make an investment here,” said KeyBank District Retail Leader John Roehm. “The discounted price we’ve offered Capitol Hill Housing will help them acquire the property and redevelop it into an attractive place to live and work that enhances the neighborhood. Capitol Hill Housing has been a client since 1976 and we’re confident in their ability to build something great here.”
The branch will close on Friday, April 12, 2013. No jobs will be lost – all the employees are being transferred to other offices.
At its meeting Monday night, the Capitol Hill Housing board approved a letter of intent to purchase the property. The timeline for redeveloping the site has not yet been set.
Despite this branch consolidation, Roehm said, Washington State continues to be a priority market for KeyBank. The bank built 17 new branches and modernized 52 offices in Greater Seattle from 2009 through 2012.