Central Area

The Central Area is a neighborhood full of history, character, businesses, organizations, schools and most importantly a community of people from a broad diversity of backgrounds. It is a community proud of its culture, heritage, and diversity of people and places. The Central Area has been, and continues to be the center of the African American community with engaged youth and seniors; strong businesses and opportunities; and a vibrant cultural district. In order to create equitable opportunities and minimize displacement, the city and community stakeholders have been working together to help achieve a shared vision and provide a comprehensive Central Area strategy to implement the top five community priorities listed below.

A destination with unique identity that recognizes the Central Area as the historical heart of the African American community while welcoming all people.

  • Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District (HCAACD)
    This Cultural District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to preserve African American culture.
  • Central Area Neighborhood Design Guidelines
    A collaborative effort among city departments and community groups to create Neighborhood Design Guidelines for the Central Area. This will guide future development to reflect the Central Area identity.
  • 23rd Ave Action Plan and Urban Design Framework (UDF)
    The UDF is developed as a result of the 23rd Ave Action Plan (Union-Cherry-Jackson) process to provide general design recommendations along 23rd Ave at key intersections, and a foundation for developing the Central Area Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

A healthy & affordable community that provides a safe and comfortable environment, opportunities for physical activity, and affordable choices.

Housing Strategies to Combat Displacement and Promote Equity in Seattle’s Central District

  • Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA)
    Implementation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) will help increase the affordable housing stocks in the Central Area to address displacement. Applying the mandatory housing affordability (MHA) requirement through rezones along 23rd Ave at Union, Cherry, and Jackson achieves the community’s vision and provides affordable housing.
  • Targeted Investment of New Rental Rehabilitation Financing
    Rental Rehabilitation Financing—a new 2016 Housing Levy financing tool—will be deployed in the Central District to improve housing quality, preserve existing housing, and ensure participating apartments stay affordable for existing residents. Rental Rehab Financing provides private property owners with low cost rehab loans; in exchange, at least half of the units will be rent and income restricted at or below 60% of median income. The Office of Housing will engage in targeted outreach to Central District properties to prevent displacement of existing low income residents, with a focus on property owners with community ties and properties with long term residents.
  • Targeted Implementation of Sustainable Homeownership Tools
    Two new 2016 Housing Levy homeownership programs–Foreclosure Prevention Loans and Home Repair Grants—will be targeted to low-income Central District homeowners to help them remain safe and stable in their homes. Foreclosure Prevention Loans of up to $30,000 will assist low-income homeowners at or below 80% of median income become current on delinquent mortgage payments, real-estate tax payments and/or homeowner association dues. Home Repair Grants of up to $10,000 will assist low-income homeowners at or below 50% of median income address critical home repair needs that could otherwise compel a homeowner to sell the home and leave the community. The Office of Housing will engage in targeted outreach to Central District community and faith organizations to deploy the loans and grants to Central District.
  • Continued Investment in Affordable Housing Development and Preservation
    The Office of Housing will continue to make investments of housing resources in affordable housing developments with an emphasis on community-based development and preservation projects. Two recent examples are listed below.

1. Liberty Bank Site with Community Ownership MOU: Invested $12.2 million in funding for Capitol Hill Housing to help build 115 units affordable to individuals and families earning $18,000 to $54,000 a year (24rd and Union). A Memorandum of Understanding signed by Africatown Center, Capitol Hill Housing, Black Community Impact Alliance, and Centerstone is intended to carry on community-based vision of empowering the Black community and other affected communities of color.

2. Preservation of Kuniyuki Apartments: Funded the strategic acquisition of the Kuniyuki Apartments (14th Ave. and Yesler)—a privately-owned building in the Central District at risk of losing affordability restrictions. The Office of Housing worked with Catholic Housing Services and community partners from the Central District to acquire and preserve this property for use as affordable housing for generations to come.

Affirmative Marketing in MFTE and MHA Units to Existing and Displaced Residents

The Office of Housing will work with Central District properties participating in the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) programs to affirmatively market vacancies to Central District residents who are at risk of displacement to promote fair access to City-supported housing.

  • Commercial Affordability
    Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee was formed to evaluate the complex issues and recommend solutions in support of commercial affordability. A commercial affordability action plan was developed to implement recommendations.

A connected community where community assets serve and reflect the community and are equitably accessed by all, and where people connect and learn from one another.

Parks improvements

  • Garfield Campus Improvements
    The 23rd Ave ACT received $83,000 Neighborhood Park and Street Fund to improve the Garfield Campus. The improvements include small plaza, benches, and barbeques.
  • Jimi Hendrix Park development
    Construction of a new park with $1.5 million funding. The Park will reflect the character and dynamism of the world’s greatest electric guitar player, and to serve as an inspiration to future generations.

A vibrant business community where commercial destinations provide a variety of goods & services, economic development opportunity and enhance the Central Area’s identity.

  • Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan
    The Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan, Central Area Collaborative (CAC) was form to create and sustain a framework for commercial vitality, leadership development and cultural legacy preservation that inspires and attracts investments in high-quality strategies and tools, resulting in wealth creation for historical, present, and future residents, reflective of the brilliance of a culturally diverse and respectful community. It focuses on the African American legacy and future commercial development in the neighborhood.
  • StartupSeattle
    Help connect tech startups with resources for entrepreneurs in the Central Area. Support efforts of Hack the CD, Black Dot, and others who are on their way to creating a critical mass of new entrepreneurial activity in the Central Area.

Livable streets for all that includes an inviting street network for all transportation modes safely connecting key destinations.

  • 23rd Corridor Improvement
    This project improves safety and mobility for people who drive, walk, bike, and take transit in the Central Area. Phase 1 of the project (between S Jackson and E John streets) includes modifying 23rd Ave from 2 lanes in each direction to 1 lane in each direction with a center turn lane. This phase also includes replacing the 100-year-old water main, storm drainage upgrades, new pavement, sidewalk improvements, traffic signal upgrades, better lighting, and public art.
  • Madison BRT
    Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service will provide fast, frequent, reliable, all-day and safe public transportation between First Avenue in downtown Seattle and Martin Luther King Jr Way.
  • Judkins Park Station
    Study the Sound Transit Link Light Rail Judkins Park station area and coordinate work in order to support a station, destination and neighborhood that is accessible, livable, equitable for all.

Planning and Community Development

Rico Quirindongo, Director
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 386-1010

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) develops policies and plans for an equitable and sustainable future. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for our Seattle communities.