City plans to sell 23rd/Yesler Fire Station, strong support behind holistic clinic

With the new Fire Station 6 at MLK and Jackson getting ready to open perhaps by the end of the year, the city is looking to sell the old station at 23rd and Yesler. Before they do that, however, the city is seeking input from the community about what people would like to see in the historic building.

The city’s Finance and Administrative Services department has preliminarily recommended that the building be sold on the market for the highest value. No other city department expressed interest in the station, so the city is looking to sell it and put the revenue back into the Fire Levy account to help build and restore more fire stations. However, city law requires a public outreach period before any such sale, prompting a meeting held last week.

Ultimately, the City Council will have the final say in what happens to the old station. They will likely make that decision in early 2013, meeting presenters said. Until then, anyone with a proposal for purchasing the building is encouraged to come forward (and it wouldn’t hurt to gather some community support for the idea while you’re at it).

A slide from the meeting presentation:

If there was any consensus among attendees at the meeting (which got a bit heated at moments), it was that people do not want the fire station to simply be sold to the highest bidder without community consideration of the buyer’s plans. The building is zoned on a low-rise residential property (LR3), so the “highest and best use” (the design that would maximize the current zoning allowance) would be a multi-family residence such as an apartment building or townhouses. The King County Assessor estimates the property value at $2.5 million, but it is not clear exactly what the property could go for in an open bidding situation.

Of the ideas presented at the meeting, none were simply residences. Only two specific groups presented specific plans for the space: The Holistic Community Health Clinic and Umojafest PEACE Center.

Most of the meeting attendees were there to support the HCHC, an effort led by Dr. John Ruhland, who currently runs the Natural Health Medical Clinic on Beacon Hill. Ruhland has gathered quite a list of coalition partners for the clinic, including King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, community and church leaders, and labor unions. The clinic would aim to provide free or sliding scale holistic and naturopathic health care out of the station’s upstairs area.

“The CD and south end are still the most underserved areas in the city” for good health care, Ruhland said, despite these areas also having high levels of preventable health issues like diabetes and heart disease. “Every time we ignore someone in need, we lose a little big of our humanity,” he said.

The other idea presented at the meeting was to make the station the future home of the Umojafest PEACE Center. Currently based at 24th and Spring, the center is bursting at the seams with 150-200 young people using it every week, said Nicquitta Brooks.

“If [the youth] are not given a stake in the community, that’s when they start acting destructively,” said Wyking Garrett, explaining why a space like the Umojafest PEACE Center is important.

Omari Tahir-Garrett also spoke and suggested the space could house the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center.

There is still time for other proposals for the building to come forward, said the presenters at the meeting. Those interested in purchasing the property should contact Louis Webster of the Financial and Administrative Services Department at [email protected] or call (206) 684-0357. And, of course, let CDNews know about your idea, as well.

Seattle Channel was there and recorded the full meeting. Here’s the video:

Here’s the presentation about the property that was shown at the start of the meeting: FS 6 Comm Mtg Presentation October 2012 FINAL2

27 thoughts on “City plans to sell 23rd/Yesler Fire Station, strong support behind holistic clinic

  1. Ok brewpub supporters, time to get serious. If we want to make this happen, one of two things needs to happen. Some of us need to put together financing and a credible business plan to purchase the property, or, we need to persuade an existing operator such as McMennamins to purchase the property. The latter involves us gathering data about the project and making a pitch to them, showing that the project would be successful. This pitch would establish a catchment area, perhaps a 1 mile radius, then show competition in the area (almost none) and potential consumers and their average income (from census data). It would then show the price of the property, and note that it will be available at a reduced rate because the landmark designation prevents redevelopment of the site. I’m super busy with grad school but would be glad to advise anyone who wants to put in the time to do the work.

  2. that it would be nice if whatever is there included something like a coffee shop that would be open to the public and some public meeting space. It would have been really great if the library had been interested in doing something there or even a community center, since the acoustics at the Garfield Community Center tend to present real problems for public meetings.
    The suggestions for Town Hall or other public space or one that included a Bookstore, community center, general store, plant nursery seemed really good. Funding maybe another matter.

  3. I’m still in, but for option #2. I am a brewer, I’ve worked in a restaurant, and the risk v. reward ratio is too great for novices in both areas. You say you are a grad student with little time; well me too. And I happen to be one who builds economic models, albeit for healthcare but same skill set. I think if anyone is going to put it together, it’s going to have to be you and I. Others chiming in with support is nice, but I highly doubt anyone will throw any money at it and I’m assuming we’re the only commenters with civil/architectural (you) and economic/brewing (me) expertise. So how about that meeting sometime? I’m free tonight or Thursday night. Twilight?

  4. Just watched the attached video… We probably have a snowball’s chance in hell of not sparking some gentrification outrage in the community.

  5. Tonight’s alright for me Tentatively 7-ish? Need to confirm with my wife, who’ll definitely want to join us.

  6. If the city is selling one of OUR assets is it too much to ask that they don’t give it away for bargain basement / shady deal terms, like happened before with MLK school? Too much to ask?

  7. I like all of those ideas. By the way, there’s a basketball court in the basement of the place. It would be cool if it were a community space of some sort, not solely for the use of folks interested in alternative medicine. The latter makes it of interest/use to a small percentage of the population.

  8. It’s an interesting building. Let’s sell it, ideally to a brew pubber like the guys above. I’ll buy beer as my financial contribution.

    The basement will be the brewery. We can slide down the pole to a big mat and take a tour.

    No need to keep the basketball – plenty of that to go around outside. Kids need to play outside and then go home when they get wet. It’s natural.

    City funds could be better used for more open space, street maintenance, or something. Let’s ditch the building for the right price. Historical designation can preserve the structure.

  9. From looking at the video it could be assumed that the clinic has made a deal with the city without community input. They monopolized the meeting and 80% of their backers do not live here. No community council has endorsed this sham nor has the district council. Just the same old social service hacks who want the CD as their plantation. I would suggest we bring $$$ to the table. And even thought they want it for free I bet they have a doner card in their hip pocket if they can’t guilt trip the city council for another freebie.

  10. I lead a home brewing collective in the CD as well, the Central District Brewing Collective ( We have a standing meeting tonight, so we wouldn’t be able to make this meeting at Twilight. Although we’re not looking to necessarily go pro, we would very much be willing and able to do whatever we could to support the development of a brewpub in the CD.

    Can one of you guys email [email protected] with your contact information so we can talk some more?

  11. Ok, so where was the meeting advertised beforehand? Was it on this blog or were those notified through some other underhanded means by the city?

  12. I did miss it – but seriously how about a weeks notice for those of us that actually live in the neighborhood, have jobs and family and need some time to arrange a babysitter before attending?

  13. Welcome to the anarchy of Seattle. No elected and accoutable neighborhood representation. No accountable tracable communication standards used by the government. Lucky you if you can spend all day trolling the city website and somehow ‘know’ the right people.

  14. It’s a beautiful building. Two or four local independent shops would work. A movie theater would be nice but may be too small. Perhaps bookstore, diner, cycle shop, but no brewpub; limited clientele for this diverse community.

  15. The building is large enough to house a primary use and one or more secondary tennants. Brewpub would make a good anchor tenant, and would essentially be a restaurant, one of the uses you suggested. In my experience most brewpub restaurants are quite family friendly. The facility would have room for some music performance, which could be jazz oriented, evoking the district’s long history of great jazz, and providing a space for some of it to return. Perhaps not every person in the area wants beer, burgers and jazz, but those things would certainly be attractive to a large number of residents. The lower level has a space that I think could make a great bike shop. Bookstore might be a bit redundant, given the fact that it’s across the street from the library.

  16. Uhhh….Whhaaat? I’m pretty sure that beer consumption spans races, generations, and socioeconomic boundaries more than anything except taking a dump.

    It is simply amazing how people are opposed to having anything good happen to the CD.

  17. I think a bar of some kind would be great! Jazz or Blues Club would be wonderful. I live in this area and believe people of all kinds love beer,liquor, and good music.

  18. Hey you guys,
    I’d love to see a brewpub in the CD. Seriously. I’m a homebrewer and I love beer. And I hate driving to the bar. But fighting a holistic health clinic to get a brewery in this space? Why? Can you honestly argue that this neighborhood needs a brewery more than health care?

    Someone else said in the comments that someone would cry gentrification. I’m comfortable being the one to do it. You guys are trying to gentrify the shit out of the CD. Open up a brewery in the myriad of open retail spaces in the CD. Not the 2.5 million dollar corner space that could be a great resource to the neighborhood.

    But seriously. The CD needs a brewpub.

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