By Jordan Martinez
On Wednesday, January 16, the Central Area Community Development Coalition held its inaugural meeting at the Greater Mt. Baker Baptist Church in the Central District hosted by the United Black Clergy. The coalition offers a space for CD residents to meet and share information regarding upcoming change in the neighborhood and express any concerns they may have.
Facilitator Verlene Jones says, “the objective of the (CACDC) meetings is to connect the dots” of disparate but parallel developments occurring in the CD. Developments highlighted at the meeting include: Fire Station #6, Promenade 23, and Judkins Park. Attendees were divided into breakout groups for the meeting and discussed their concerns on potential plans for the CD, here is what they thought:
Promenade 23- Purchased by Houston-based Weingarten Realty have plans for extensive redevelopment on the plot., Potential changes include replacement of the Red Apple grocery store with a larger chain. WalMart was widely opposed by coalition attendees but rising prices at the Promenade Red Apple was a concern expressed by residents. Underscoring the pro
cesses underway the Weingarten online listing mentions that “the neighborhood has been transitioning into high-rise living.”
Judkins Park- Amanda Bryan of the CD’s micro-neighborhood ‘Judkins Place’, lead a session on the need to expand opportunities and programs at Judkins Park. “We see the park being used, we would like to see it used more.” Unfortunately, a recent push for grants came up empty handed however the project still continues.
Fire Station 6- Designated as a historical site, the art-deco Fire Station 6 sitting at 23rd and Yesler is up for sale by the City. The possibility of selling the building to the highest bidder, rather than negotiating the price, or retaining the building for community use caused an uproar at previous public meetings for the site, However this appears to be the way the city will proceed. Wyking Garrett, organizer at the Umoja PEACE Center, spoke on the proposal by the center for a mixed-use commercial and cultural center to teach industry technical skills. On the idea of Central District preservation, Wyking made clear that “I want to make sure when you say you want to preserve (Black) culture, it doesn’t mean turning us into museum pieces.”
Notes from “Other” Group- This group which chose to go by “other” spoke broadly on the Central District’s development and the placement of the CD in the larger scheme of Seattle development. Points were made on the draft “Values Statement,” with some seeking additional “culturally specific” language. Looking back on the Central District’s recent history, one resident spoke saying “you wouldn’t believe what has changed and what has been lost.”
The meeting comes amid increasing projects in neighborhood such as the redevelopment of Key Bank on 23rd and Union to “mixed-use and affordable housing in Katy TX,” which will keep residents busy at future CACDC meetings and create a need for more community involvement.
The Central Area Community Development Coalition plans to meet monthly on third Wednesdays with a second meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th, from 4 to 5:30pm, again at the Greater Mt. Baker Baptist Church (2425 S. Jackson St.).
Here are some more photos of the event courtesy of Jordan Martinez: