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Africatown and Forterra make offer for Midtown Center

After a deal with a developer fell through, the organizations are moving forward on their own

Seattle DPD

The corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street has long been at the forefront of gentrification and displacement in the Central District, a historically black community. On that corner, the Midtown Center has been at the center of this for years, with multiple proposed development deals falling through.

It seemed like Lennar Multifamily Communities was set to develop the land with plans to give community group Africatown, aided by environmental organization Forterra, a 20% stake. But the land deal fell apart earlier this month, leaving the whole project in total limbo once again.

Now, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, it the project may still move forward—minus Lennar. Africatown and Forterra put their own offer on the property. Africatown leader K. Wyking Garrett announced the bid at a meeting on Thursday, with a representative from the Mayor’s office in attendance.

Multiple previous developments had been held up or dissolved by a disagreement between the heirs to the property, the Bangassar siblings, one of which felt the community deserved a “seat at the table.” The others felt by involving the community to that degree, he was holding up the sale of the property.

Midtown Center is currently home to some longtime black-owned businesses, including the coworking and innovation space Black Dot.

Garrett told Capitol Hill Seattle that if their offer is accepted, this could be a chance for “inclusive development” on the corner. (Neither Africatown or the Forterra representative involved in the project immediately responded to Curbed Seattle’s request for comment.)

The news could bring a happy ending to a long and fraught story of the corner.