A year ago, Vulcan Real Estate bought six acres at 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street for $30.9 million in the Central District of Seattle. Five years earlier, another realty company, which sold to Vulcan, paid $12.5 million less. Currently, a Red Apple grocery store sits on this site, which will be replaced with two 7-story buildings separated by a public walkway and an additional one-level retail space. The first floor on the two, larger buildings will be for retail, with 530 apartments above and a multi-tiered 500+ parking garage below.
Increased gentrification of our city has some concerned, and the Central District area is no exception. In the 1960s, this neighborhood was 70% African-American, according to a Seattle Times article; a year ago, it was down to 20%. In part due to sharply rising housing costs, there has been a call for more affordable housing in the Central District, and keeping or attracting African-American-owned businesses to the neighborhood. Concerning affordable housing, one-fifth of Vulcan’s new site will include rental units offered at a reduced amount (65-85% median income), which in turn provides Vulcan with a tax credit.
Other Central District plans are underway to increase affordable housing and business opportunities farther north along 23rd Avenue South as well. The Midtown Center at 23rd and East Union Street was purchased by a partnership for a combination of profit, retaining some of the center’s current character, and to build 125 affordable living units within the 500-unit complex. This developer might also receive a tax credit, not unlike Vulcan, and be able to build more floors on the building. And the former Liberty Bank location at nearby 24th and Union will be the site for a new 6-story, mixed-use building with up to 115 affordable housing units and commercial spaces that focus on attracting local business, especially African-American.