Community Post

Why Isn’t Cherry Street Blooming?

Over the last couple of months, there’s been plenty of vibrant discussion on this site about development, re-development, revitalization of certain areas in the CD: 23rd and Union23rd and Cherry, along Jackson and parts of Yesler. We focus again on Cherry, a main thoroughfare in the neighborhood. The nagging question: What’s going on (or maybe What’s NOT going on?) between the Community Center and just east of MLK.

For a busy street that cuts through the heart of such a wide residential area, you’d think there’d be more stores and businesses of all types to cater to everyone ready to buy and eat and drink. But a quick count shows at least half a dozen places are shuttered. The old dry cleaners: Closed. The southern food restaurant: Shut down. A small unknown red building across the street: Long ago locked up. What gives? And more importantly, what will it take to possibly turn things around what COULD BE a terrific street in the CD. We’ve already talked about the potential for lots of new stores to move into the loft/work spaces and the old chocolate building at 23rd and Cherry.. but what does it take to reclaim and rejuvenate such a prized road?

0 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Cherry Street Blooming?

  1. * Several of the lots were contaminated by the drycleaners and will take 5-7 years to clean up. The islamic school pkg lot all the way to the East end of that block.

    * Jordan’s kid’s in the brick bldg across the street are hunkered in till they get the big money

    * Cherry Street apts is being permitted into 12 cool live works

    * Cederstarnd’s own’s Catfish corner, they rarely sell and are classic slumlords

    * The zoning map was drawn wrong, 23rd and Cherry is NC130 and the rest of the block is NC240. It should have been NC65 on corner and NC40 along rest of block. Anchor developments on the corners are the best way to spur development on the rest of the block.

    * The best bet for Cherry St is to rezone the corner and petition the School Department to enter into a public/private partnership that turns the Nova School into something like the Wallingford Center

    Its all happening but very very slowly.

  2. OK it needs a paint job, but take some time to check this school out. It has a commitment to community involvement and the kids who select Nova tend to be more politically and socially active and aware than the average HS student. I think a building full of energetic, potential community activists would do much more for Cherry St. than a Wallingford style mall which probably wouldn’t work anyway without the anchors that Wallingford has.

  3. Ron,

    You seem to know a heck of a lot about everything, but clearly you know nothing about Nova or you wouldn’t suggest turning it into a mall. (Or maybe you do know about it, and we have a fundamental disagreement.) This year’s Nova graduation speech was given by a graduate who is headed to MIT next year. Mary Bass, the CD’s own School Board rep personally was at the graduation because she is a Nova advocate. Nova faculty and students are very active in race relations and social justice in our city and around the world. This is a unique school that offers a great deal for all kinds of students–and very importantly, an alternative to the teaching and learning styles and social atmosphere at traditional high schools. I agree with the comments of ald–check Nova out before you suggest replacing it with retail. Nova is exactly what this community needs to hold on to.

  4. The Wallingford center idea can easily incorporate the Nova school. You may not like it but the reality is that the school is an old building that is not being used in a sustainable way and eventually the school district will have to look at more creative uses’s to justify the cost of maintaining the bldg. When you look at the sq ftg to student ratio VS the overall cost its just not an efficient model. Adding some neighborhood retail to the site or some senior housing would spread the cost to the user’s vs the tax payers and it can be done in a way that allows the bldg to keep its historic significance. The site can handle several more out buildings and more uses other than a school. I’m a big supporter of the Nova school and therefore am giving a fresh perspective on the question of how to improve Cherry Street.

  5. Being a Nova student for the past four years and a resident of the central district, I can wholeheartedly say that the school should not move, be shut down, and certainly should not be replaced by a shopping center. I believe that one of the greatest things about the school is the personal responsibility every student attains while attending Nova: responsibility to the wellbeing of the school, the community, and the world. After the 9/11 attacks, students joined outside of the Islamic school next door, and formed a barricade between the school and people who felt (like many all over the country, then and today) that Islam was the centrifuge of the attacks. When global warming became an issue, students and teachers teamed up to reduce the school’s carbon footprint, and yearly trips to East Timor and Guatemala are taken to teach students about social justice problems all over the world. Next year, the school has decided to create an addition to its organic garden (used to feel students at the school), where a p-patch will be available to community members.

    Nova is a place where students who thrive in a traditional education system love the school, and where students who have had negative experiences in other high schools feel comfortable, and can work through high school at their own pace. Each student is able to meet with their adviser/teachers one-on-one, daily if desired, and each teacher spends more time working than any teacher at any other school, whether it’s answering student’s phone calls late into the night to answer questions, or working with students through the summer on a project that the student wants to do, or on a class that a student wants to co-teach with a teacher (which happens often). Nova students have some of the highest SAT scores in the district, and most college-bound seniors are accepted to either their first or second choice colleges.

    For a school with all of these great programs, Nova must fundraise year-round to pay our cook, which the district does not believe is important for the wellbeing of the students at the school. We also have the smallest number of administrative positions of any high school, and the school district is constantly looking for ways to give Nova even LESS money.

    For all the reasons provided above (and many more), I do not think that Nova should be held to the standards of other high schools in the Seattle School District, from student-to-teacher ratio, to number of students per square foot of school property. Instead, I would challenge the school district to hold other high schools to the standards of Nova: lowering class sizes, giving students a chance to have conversations with teachers, LOWERING the number of students per square foot of the school, and creating a place where every student loves to be. I know for a fact that Nova would love to be more connected to the community if possible, and I think that removing Nova from the Central District Community would hurt the area, rather than strengthening it.

    If you have any questions about the school, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

    Thank you.

  6. “A small unknown red building across the street: Long ago locked up.”

    You don’t remember 3-Bs? Long ago? Really?