Vulcan has released preliminary redevelopment plans for the Central District shopping center at 23rd and Jackson it purchased for $30.9 million in February. While some community members see Vulcan’s entry into the Central District as yet another sign of increasing gentrification, the real estate giant is working affordable housing into the development.
Vulcan plans to replace the shopping center and its expansive parking lot with two mid-rise buildings which would hold 566 apartments. The two buildings will be built over three to four levels of underground parking, allowing the development to center around a public plaza and retail shops. Vulcan is proposing to utilize Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE), an affordable housing incentive program which alleviates certain property taxes from participating developers, to make twenty percent of the units at 23rd and Jackson affordable. This would mean that the redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson would produce 113 affordable units including 49 units affordable to households earning 65% of Area Median Income ($41,145 for a single person, $58,695 for a family of 4).
While Vulcan has stated that the design of 23rd and Jackson was derived from recommendations it received from Central Area stakeholders, some community members do not see the affordable units as enough to counteract the increased gentrification the neighborhood has faced recently. Evelyn Thomas Alan, the founder of the Black Community Impact Alliance, argues that while MFTE does provide affordable housing for middle-class workers, the income range does not go low enough to provide affordable housing for significant numbers of African Americans.
Despite some push back from community members, the Vulcan development team is getting ready for the project’s first design review session, scheduled for May 10th.