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Developer, Nonprofits Reach Deal On Seattle's Midtown Center Property

Simone Alicea
The Midtown Center property was just sold to a developer who plans to sell part of it to a partnership of nonprofits.

A deal has been reached between the owners, a developer and two nonprofits on a valuable piece of property in Seattle's Central District.

Lake Union Partners has agreed to buy the old Midtown Center property on 23rd Avenue and East Union Street for $23.25 million.

The property is one of the last full blocks of undeveloped land in the city and lies at the historical heart of Seattle's black community.

Lake Union Partners plans to sell 20 percent of the block to land conservancy group Forterra, which is serving as an "interim purchaser" for Africatown, a nonprofit focused on community development in the Central District.

"Our goal is to see the sustainable and engaged community project that Africatown has articulated," Forterra Executive Vice President Michelle Connor said.

Connor says Forterra will provide resources and infrastructure, while Africatown will ultimately decide what goes into their parcel and what it will look like.

Both Lake Union Partners and the Africatown-Forterra partnership plan to build affordable housing -- more than 500 units for those with incomes between 40 and 85 percent of the area median.

There will also be retail and restaurant space. Africatown plans to prioritize black-owned businesses.

"We are at the table right now, and there's opportunity," Africatown board member Kenny Pleasant said. "Whether it be for businesses, or ownership or people of color that want to come forward, the table is set right now."

On the market for the past two years, the block has been seen as a symbol of the Central District's battles against gentrification. It's also been a site for demonstrations and protests.

The three groups plan to begin the design process for the property later this year.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.