Affordable apartments will go up at this old Liberty Bank spot in the CD | KUOW News and Information

Affordable apartments will go up at this old Liberty Bank spot in the CD

Oct 25, 2016

There's a new building going up in the heart of Seattle's Central District.

It's a project that could help bring back renters who've been priced out of the neighborhood.

As the Central Area gentrifies, the developers hope this building will attract people who once lived here and who made it Seattle’s historic black center.  

The building, at 24th and Union, will have 115 units. All of them are affordable studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments. The development is named for Liberty Bank, a now-closed Seattle bank that served the black community for several decades.

Wyking Garrett is chief strategist for Africatown, one of the groups involved with project. 

He says they want the new building to be a symbol of future economic empowerment for Seattle's historically black community. 

"The legacy of Liberty Bank was established in 1968 to provide economic opportunities to the black community," says Garrett. "They were being intentionally excluded via redlining and other public and private practices. That marginalized the economic development of the black community."  

Liberty Bank closed in 1988. It was then transformed into the Emerald City Bank, which was acquired by Key Bank. Key Bank later sold the building to Capitol Hill Housing, which manages affordable housing buildings in Seattle. The new building will not house a bank.

Depending on family size, people with incomes between $31,000 and $54,000 a year would be eligible to rent after a standard background check. That range is within 30 to 60 percent of Seattle's median income. Seattle’s current median income is $67,000 a year.

"We look at the Liberty Bank project as being a new model for development in this community," Garrett says.

The total cost of the project, according to Capitol Hill Housing, is $30 million. The goal is to break ground in the spring or summer of 2017.