Community Post

Gentrification putting squeeze on black businesses

KING 5 Story from June, stumbled upon via the usual circuitous path of “the internets”.

11:35 AM PDT on Tuesday, June 26, 2007


As far as Lottie Cross is concerned, there is no Central District in Seattle anymore.

Gentrification has changed the character of the historically African American neighborhood.

“It’s phasing out,” she said.

But as condos sprout up on street corners and new white, middle class families move in, some say an integral part of the community has been victimized. Black businesses struggle even as new wealth enters their neighborhood.

………(read the rest)

0 thoughts on “Gentrification putting squeeze on black businesses

  1. Many Central District businesses, featured on CDN, started withing the last 5 years and appear to be on track to staying into the future: 2020 Cycle, Central Cinema, All Purpose Pizza, and others. They are succeeding in and incredibly tough climate right now. The Twilight Exit has opened and thrived in the last year. There is a classic brick 4 unit storefront immediatly west of Flo Ware Park that is screaming to be fixed up and turned into shops. The Central District is densly packed with people and really has a shortage of certain services so the CD is a good place to start a business.

  2. in the formerly Envy spot, CC’s Burgers across the street, Philly’s (although the asking rent is absurd,) the former photog shop in the same bldg as Katy’s Coffee Cafe at 20th & Union, the Copymaster space and the new commercial condos between 20th & 21st on Union. Now, if only the monies would flow again…….

  3. The reason African American businesses closed up is NOT gentrification, just the opposite. The Central Area used to be one of the largest middle class, home owning neighborhoods in the US. What killed it is the gangs and lack of police respose to the crime over several decades. Lack of police/city government respose to the gang problemn drove the middle class out as they wanted to raise their children in a crime free area where their children would not be racially profiled. When crime drove out the middle class African Americans there went the customers with incomes to support the businesses here.
    The gentrification blame is crap, pure and simple. Racist Seattle policy over decades did it!

  4. it seems like one of Lottie’s points is that black-owned businesses aren’t thriving, not neighborhood businesses in general. I would be surprised if the ones you mention are owned by African Americans, but I don’t actually know who the owners are.

  5. The office of Economic Development just recently turned down a grant request to help us promote locally owned businesses in the CD.

  6. I shop various local ( Central Area ) businesses, and have no idea who owns many of them, let alone their race. Also, since it appears many of the older businesses were African American owned, are they or their families now the landlords to the new tenant businesses? As to the local police support, well…, I think we all ( old timers or new comers ) have stories to share on that subject.

  7. What about the squeeze on White businesses? Japanese businesses? Jewish Businesses? Why must race always come into play???? Please!!!!

  8. Do conversations about race, or more specifically black people, make you uncomfortable Ralph? Maybe you should explore the differences between race and ethnicity and then perhaps you could explore the history that race has played (and continues to play)in this country both socially and economically. If you were feeling bold, you could even explore the impact your race has had on other people.

    Do you see things as being equal for all races and ethnic groups you have mentioned? Do you think each group is facing the same social and economic challenges? Are you aware that the central district was a predominately black neighborhood for many years? Are you aware of the reasons for that? Or do you prefer to deny that history? Are you aware of the housing and business discrimination that has occurred here and in the rest of the city? Or do you prefer to deny that too?

  9. “Black businesses struggle even as new wealth enters their neighborhood”

    It’s interesting how the comments here have turned the phrase “black business” into the phrase “local business” as if the two things are one in the same. It is obvious that the plight of black people is of no concern to most people on this site. It is an ironic shame.

  10. Racist city policies over decades have a direct relationship to racist Seattle residents. You continuously reduce complex scenarios to simple equations, AKA the containment zone you love to harp on.

  11. Gee Kim, you seem to attack everybody and all points of view without offering any specific views of your own. Could it be that you actually are the shallow reactionary your postings exhibit?

  12. I support all local businesses in the area that can offer me something that I want. I for one Kim am not disturbed by racial issues. What I am disturbed by is that the article places blame on the “middle class families” moving into the neighborhood. I have previuosly have owned a business. You cater to those that live around you if you want to thrive. If these “black owned businnesses” want to survive as business owners then they need to change their marketing strategy. I am all about being proud of your heritage, but if you want equality and to be treated the same, then in business close your eyes to color and service those that can make your business boom. I as a middle class white homeowner am quite frankly made to feel that because I bought a home in this neighborhood did something bad.

  13. is now on the Board of Directors of Madison Market and working with the Clean Greens Farm. A more recent conversation with her would be interesting.

  14. I totally missed the point of the article. It may be true that the CD is gentrifying and businesses are strugling, but I do not see the relationship between the two. It’s like saying that during the summer, both ice cream sales and crime rates increase, therefore ice cream causes crime. And it is actually a little counterintuative. I’m willing to bet that the CD ranks among the top of Seattle neighborhoods for residents who bike, walk, or bus for transportation. If that is not a formula for a strong local economy, then businesses need to figure out how to make it the formula.

  15. Hi Kim!

    In answer to your first question: No. It does not make me uncomfortable at all. I am a person “of color” as the buzz word goes. I am African American and feel that all of this “Pro Black” propeganda is absurd.

    My opinion….


  16. Gentrification and the establishment of more quality businesses can’t happen fast enough.

    i.e. there is no reason why Jackson street between 29th & 25th could become another Columbia City zone versus the dump it is now.

    All Purpose Pizza and the Girl’s School need more support. Replacing the Quick Pack “Food” Mart would be a great start!

  17. Umm… why do you live in this neighborhood if it is such a dump? And don’t ever talk about replacing Quick Pack again. If you don’t know about the chicken because you are too scared to go inside, fine. But don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

  18. I agree that the Quick Pack should be ditched. Too much crime associated there and I would be happy to try the chicken if the owners want to get the property up to some reasonably safe standards.

    Sorry ch2 if it offends you. Nothing to do with color at all. I just feel that it serves as a base to some of the disturbances in the neighborhood and SPD definitely agrees. You want it kept here, then put together a plan to make it viable and safe. If the plan is good, I will volunteer to help implement it.

  19. I realized my last comment was kinda negative so I just want to say, make sure to support the two local businesses that opened in the past couple months on 25th and Jackson along with the others that were already there.

    The two businesses are Halal Meat Mini Mart which specializes in Middle-Eastern and Indian cuisine, and also the falafel and African restaurant (whose name escapes me) on the corner of 26th and Jackson.

    The Halal Meat mini mart (despite the unfortunate name — and being a vegetarian, I was hesitant to go in) has amazing deals and they are very friendly and welcoming. They have all sorts of curry pastes and exotic canned and jarred foodstuffs.

    The restaurant on 26th and Jackson is also good and deserves our support. Every time I have been there it’s been empty so we really gotta start supporting local restaurants or they will go out of business. I know the corner of 26th and Jackson is so much better now since that restaurant opened. Before, when it was a BBQ/ribs joint, there would be a gang of 10 guys hanging around all the time.

    Besides that I gotta give a shout out to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the hood, which opened a few months ago: Chef Cafe on 22nd and Jackson. From the outside it looks bad but the food is great. True, the last time I went there I was accosted by a group of teenage boys who took a USB drive I had and tried to smash it (they failed!) so it isn’t the safest corner. But the food is excellent and cheap!

  20. I live on 26th and Jackson and let me tell you, this is just about the worst area in the hood. Besides witnessing two shootings within 1 block of my house (actually having bullets fly by me within a couple of feet and seeing them hit the ground near me!) in the past year I have heard countless shootings and been hassled how many times … so I’m pretty much at my wits end over this particular part of the CD.

    it’s not safe for my girlfriend to walk around during the day or night without being harassed. She walks to Quick Pack to get cigarettes despite my best advice and virtually every time she gets harassed .. we even had a guy following her back to the house here and coming over at odd hours of day and night knocking on our door! Another time an ex-convict was leaving her love letters and we had to call the cops on him … I love the Central District (went to high school here! lived here for years) but I really feel like this strip from ~26th-29th on Jackson needs to be cleaned up!

  21. The Somali and Ethiopian biz are surviving and growing. Aren’t they considered ‘black’ businesses?

  22. The neglect of jackson street is really sad.

    MLK and Jackson, some of the worst and most dangerous driving I’ve ever seen.

    Then over to 29th — the “community” of neighborhood and church insiders has prevented a respectable businesses from getting a city liquor license that many restaurants need to survive. They are struggling.

    Then there’s the city park at 28th that was effectively taken over by a gang — Completely owned. Neighborhood residents could not feel safe to walk through or use the park. SPD is on the case but they can only do so much.

    Let’s not even talk about the gross Promenade plaza and grocery store.

    Further over at 22nd, you have the card room with visibly drunk people staggering around outside, GETTING IN TO CARS and driving recklessly around.

    It’s time for business owners on Jackson to band together and make their street less hostile to walkers and shoppers.

  23. ch2, you are correct. I am scared to go in. The chicken, come on man get real. That place is a dump, but I suppose if I wanted chicken and 40 oz’ers I would go there. Either way, I drive past there everyday on my way to work and I always think it could be much more.

    B – the situation regarding that park on 28th & Jackson is indeed sad. The community shouldn’t lose out on such a nice park b/c of the hoodlums.

  24. There is a Jackson Street Business Association forming, now comprised of businesses west of 23rd. Sounds like they need to contact those east of 23rd.

  25. “historically African American neighborhood”

    Please. I’m 64 years old, and I can remember when it wasn’t an “African American Neighborhood”. When I was a kid, it was a nice mix of black, white and Asian. It only briefly became an “African American Neighborhood” when real estate speculators scared gullible whites and Asians into selling their homes, or converting them to sleazy rentals.

    Enough with the revisionist history. There should be room for everyone in our neighborhood without having to make up stuff.

  26. I attend these meetings monthly and for the last 12 months (I’ve lived in the CD since 2004) the main theme coming from the SPD is that their top obstacle in preventing violence and crime on Jackson here in the #20s streets is that the owners of many businesses are contributing to the problem. They don’t do their part to inform police of the illegal activity and general loitering outside their stores (read: panhandling, harassing people walking by and selling drugs). And several business owners are actually involved in the crime problem directly by letting illegal activity occur inside their premises. And this isn’t Starbucks or Walgreens or Hollywood Video. It’s pretty obvious to most CD residents where the problem businesses and owners operate.

    The recommendation from the SPD and the EPCPC is to CALL THE FUCKING POLICE. Don’t let your girlfriend get harassed on the way to the Quick Pack and not report it. Don’t notice that your car has been vandalized or broken into and decide to not report it because nothing major was damaged or stolen. Don’t observe blatant drug selling and use on the sidewalk and turn the other way without reporting it. The only way to increase police presence and increase funding for crime prevention programs here is to show the need by driving up the volume of legitimate crime reports.

    If you don’t do this, you don’t deserve to bitch about it. Its up to the residents and upstanding biz owners to put this crap behind us and move on.

  27. Thank you for your post! As of the last few weeks I call 911 for EVERYTHING. The business, Quick Pack in particular, thrive on the business of thugs and criminals.