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What do you want to see from a public plaza on 23rd and Union?

The Midtown block developers are looking for input

Via Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections

Update, April 16: After collecting feedback on the public plaza, Lake Union Partners has launched another survey to get feedback on some more detailed elements, like the design of the skybridges and the public portals.

The developer is also getting into more specifics from the last round: What do you want to see from public art elements? What could help make programming in the space family-friendly?

The new survey is located here—and Lake Union Partners says there will be an open house sometime in May.

Original article, January 8:

Lake Union Partners, Africatown, and Capitol Hill Housing are getting ready to develop the Midtown Block at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street. Part of the project is a 9,000-square-foot public square, surrounded by the project’s retail tenants and accessible from three sides of the development. Art will include James Washington’s “Fountain of Triumph,” which is currently being restored by Pratt Fine Arts Center.

With the square, the group developing the land hopes to create a community gathering space with special programming from community groups. Since the hope is to create a space that people actually want to use, the group has put together a survey asking for the public’s input on the project.

Among other things, the survey asks: What would you like to do in a public square? What kind of retail do you want to see? And, finally: “How can the public square celebrate the Central District’s history and diversity?”

The survey has already generated more than 250 comments, especially on the history and diversity point. The Central District community went from 73 percent black in the 1970s—a product of a legacy of redlining that forced black residents into specific neighborhoods—to less than 20 percent today. Some commenters suggest the project make room for minority-created art and minority-owned businesses.

Lake Union Partners spokesperson Cait Carew told us over email that there’s no set closing date for public comment right now: “We’ll add more questions at some point but we’ll keep it up for now, at least the next few months.”

The story of the Midtown Block is long and fraught, with a family dispute throwing ownership into question and a lot of concern from community groups about gentrification and displacement—something that corner has become a symbol of.

The block’s tale finally reached a satisfying ending back in May, when Africatown Community Land Trust, in partnership with sustainability nonprofit Forterra, entered a deal for 20 percent of the land. That was part of a $23 million purchase by Lake Union Partners. In October, Capitol Hill Housing got in on Africatown’s part of the development.

When completed, the project will include not only the public plaza, but more than 500 apartments.

Lake Union Partners’ portion will have around 400 apartments. Around 125 of those will be affordable to those earning 60 to 85 percent of area median income through the multifamily tax exemption (MFTE) and mandatory housing affordability (MHA) programs.

Another portion, developed by Africatown and Capitol Hill Housing, will be home to up to 130 units of housing affordable to families making 30 to 60 percent of area median income, plus community spaces, including a rooftop deck.