Tag Archives: Gentrification

Beacon Hill Restaurants Baja Bistro and CheBogz to Reopen at Colina Apartments

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Family-owned Beacon Hill restaurants Baja Bistro and Kusina Filipina were known for more than just their delicious, authentic recipes. Their customers and neighbors were welcomed like family when they came to dine. That was partly why the loss of both restaurants was so painful. After a change in building ownership led to a rent hike, the Paraiso family closed Kusina in 2017, and Baja shuttered after 25 years in 2020 due to the pandemic. The closures also reflected the decades-long trend of displacement and gentrification in Seattle. With the support of the Beacon Business Alliance (BBA) and a community-minded developer, these two legacy restaurants are planning to reopen in the same neighborhood they were previously forced out of. 

Baja and CheBogz — the latter is owned by Paraiso family sisters Trixia and Paula — are returning to Beacon Hill, splitting a storefront space in the new Colina Apartments

“It’s almost kind of like a fairy-tale story for People of Color,” Trixia said when reflecting on moving the restaurant back to Beacon Hill. “You don’t really get this opportunity to have a landlord say, ‘We want you guys here so that we can keep this community as diverse as it was before.’” 

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Skyway Nonprofit Forms CDA to Revitalize Community

by Alexa Peters


For decades, the close-knit and diverse community in Skyway has been striving to flourish on their own terms.

As an unincorporated part of King County, Skyway does not have a local government entity, like a city council or mayor, working on behalf of the majority BIPOC community, making it harder for residents to preserve the parts of Skyway they love and execute much-needed additions, like a long-awaited community center. At the same time, residents like Jeannie Williams, who’s lived in Skyway for 36 years, say incorporation wouldn’t be worth the cost to the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

“Skyway has its own quirky personality all its own. It’s kind of like being out in the country but in the middle of the city. There’s cool little family-owned restaurants and it’s a good place to raise your kids. It’s very diverse,” said Williams. “All of those things make Skyway its own community.”

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The Morning Update Show — 8/30/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, August 30

Elder Homeowners in the CD Targeted by Real Estate Companies | Faith Leaders Call Out Voter Suppression Efforts | “Take Your Hands Off My Ballot” | Tre Simmons Back2School Celebration | Black on the Block | Mariners Honor Baseball Beyond Borders

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New Amazon Grocery Store Sets Up Shop in Heart of Seattle’s Central District

by Ben Adlin


Amazon opened a new grocery store in the heart of the Central District this month, a sign for many longtime residents of the uncertain future facing what was once the established core of the city’s Black community.

The Central District location is Washington State’s second Amazon Fresh — the retail behemoth’s new line of full-size grocery stores — and the first to open its doors in Seattle itself. The chain, which launched its first store in Southern California late last year, now has 17 locations nationwide.

“We’re thrilled to bring the first Amazon Fresh grocery store in Seattle to the Central District, providing customers with a wide selection of low-priced, high-quality fresh foods and a convenient in-store shopping experience,” David Nielson, regional manager of Amazon Fresh grocery stores, said in a statement. “We’re proud that this store has brought hundreds of great jobs to the area and we are committed to continuing to contribute positively to the community.”

In moving into the historic intersection at 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street, however, Amazon Fresh has put itself at the center of a decades-long conversation about gentrification and displacement, which have splintered the neighborhood’s Black residents and businesses. Some who were born and raised in the Central District see Amazon as a potential partner — even a good neighbor, if the company lives up to its promises — while others harbor deep distrust of a brand seen widely as a symbol of Seattle’s growing exclusivity.

“Amazon’s here, the neighborhood’s been gentrified,” Reginald Dennis, who was born in the Central Area in 1959 and has lived there nearly all his life, told the South Seattle Emerald. “It just seems like more of what the neighborhood has already been through.”

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PHOTO ESSAY: Families Return to Union for a Reunion

by Susan Fried


More than 50 families with roots in Seattle’s Central District attended the second annual “Reunion on Union, Community Dinner and Block Party” on Saturday, July 17.

Many of the families no longer live in the area, having been displaced by gentrification, but they gathered with one another to reminisce and reconnect with old friends and neighbors. 

The joy was palpable as friends and relatives hugged and greeted each other, many for the first time in years. The event included food, music and vendors.

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In Memoriam to Seattle’s Central District

by Shawn Richard-Davis


I think it is time we pay our last respects to the dearly departed, iconic Central Area (CD) spots we’ve loved yet never properly mourned. 

Earlier this week I drove past the southeastern corner of 23rd and Jackson, a site formerly known as Promenade 23. I witnessed, for the first time, a huge, beautiful, newly completed complex. My first thought was, “How many Black people will be living there?” I was not excited about this new building because it did not represent something that “belonged” to the community. Instead, I felt resentful. I’m being honest. In the months I spent watching this building taking shape, I felt the need to mourn that particular block of the CD. Gentrification has continued at an alarming rate in the Central Area. I do not claim to have the answers as to how this trend will be reversed. This is my cathartic way of mourning. 

I was born and raised in Seattle, and it has been my home for almost 60 years (Oowee). As a child, I resided with my family at a number of locations including 15th and Cherry, 18th and Jefferson, 28th and Norman, and the Yesler Terrace projects. My aunt and uncle owned a house on 28th and Norman where I spent much of my childhood. Additionally, my uncle owned two record shops in Seattle: Summerrise World of Music on 12th and Jackson and the Wholesale House on Rainier Ave South across the street from Borracchini’s bakery. For some residents, the late 1960s through early 1990s were good, prosperous times in the CD. Recently, however, the area looks less and less like the Black community of the past, and it makes me sad. I feel grief and loss for what once was a thriving community. 

Join me now in a memorial service for the Central Area. I think I hear the community gathering, and they are singing, “Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Um hmm, um hmm, uh mmm.”

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Community Groups Protest Grand Opening of CID’s First Luxury High-Rise

by Sharon Ho Chang


A coalition of community groups protested the grand opening of KODA Condominiums in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID) yesterday. The demonstration, organized by the CID Coalition (aka Humbows Not Hotels) and supported by Parisol (Pacific Rim Solidarity Network) and MPOP (Massage Parlor Outreach Project), was the latest of many actions over the years protesting the development including a protest at the groundbreaking in 2019.

“KODA was the first luxury high-rise approved in the CID after City Council’s controversial Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation, so it has serious implications for the future of the neighborhood,” wrote CID Coalition member Nina Wallace in an email.

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Weekend Long Reads: What Drives the Cost of Housing?

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s “long read” is a discussion of what happens to rental prices when developers build new market-rate housing.

There has been a raging debate the past several years among economists and housing experts on what happens when new market-rate housing is built in a neighborhood: Do rents in neighboring buildings go up, or do they go down? There are two schools of thought on this.

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Where Did the Soul Go?

by Rayna Mathis


Seattle’s Central District (CD) has gone through drastic changes over the last 20 years. Many communities have called this historic neighborhood home: Jewish people, Japanese Americans, and African Americans. Long-time residents and displaced families whose histories go back generations will lament this sentiment. 

If you’ve been to the CD in the last month, you might have noticed an important piece of 23rd and Yesler missing — the Soul Pole. In the summer of 1969, as part of President Johnson’s Model Cities Program (which ended in 1974), the Soul Pole was carved in a month by five teen artists, aged 14–16: Brenda Davis, Larry Gordon, Gregory Jackson, Cindy Jones, and Gaylord Young and was led by Seattle Rotary Boys Club Art Director, Gregory X. The sculpture honors 400 years of African American history by using four figures to represent significant moments of the Black man’s experience from primitive, to slavery, to liberation.

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Lake Washington Boulevard Closed Memorial Day Weekend, Summer Plans Not Decided

by Jack Russillo


Over the holiday weekend, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will close a one-mile section of Lake Washington Boulevard — from Mount Baker Park to Genesee Park — to cars and open it up for pedestrians to recreate freely. The closure will begin “around noon” on Friday, May 28, when SDOT crews put up barriers on the roadway. The road will be open to cars again on the morning of Tuesday, June 1.

“We hear from a lot of people who love it and that it just feels like freedom for them to have this space to walk, bike, walk with strollers, roller skate, scoot on scooters, and just be with the open space of Lake Washington,” said Sara Colling, a senior outreach lead at SDOT. “It just opens up a lot of opportunities. With that, there are tradeoffs, which is why the decision-making process is complicated.”

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