We reported in July that the Post Office told Tom Bangasser—owner of many parcels of property on the corner, including the space housing the Post Office—they were going to move their distribution operations to 4th and Lander. The Post Office is not only a major tenant on the property, but it is also one of the largest employers in the neighborhood.
The threat of the Post Office leaving shifted redevelopment talks into high gear, since it is unlikely another tenant would be able to utilize all the space that currently houses both a retail and distribution hub for the Postal Service.
Now, the Post Office says it will stay at 23rd and Union, and has renewed a lease that gives them the ability to leave any time with a year’s notice. However, talks about redevelopment on the corner are moving forward, and a new, state-of-the-art Post Office retail location will be part of that vision if Bangasser has his way.
“Having a [Post Office] retail location is really part of the backbone of the neighborhood, and is all over the country,” Bangasser said. He envisions a Post Office that is also a cafe or some other business mash-up that would change the experience of a Post Office.
But first, the property needs to find a developer lured by the promise of a full block of developable land in the middle of a strong and growing neighborhood. Bangasser owns 106,000 square feet from 24th and Spring to 23rd and Union, including the Umojafest PEACE Center and the Midtown Centre (for scale, the empty lot across 23rd Ave is 16,000 square feet). And Bangasser is looking to sell to the right buyer. The new Post Office is just one piece of a large redevelopment that could add significant retail and housing density to the neighborhood.
To get things moving, the CD Association—comprised of property owners in the area—is hosting a community meeting about the future of 23rd and Union and its surrounding area. The meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Casey Foundation Building across 23rd from the Post Office.
“We’ll be talking about the work plan in the area for the upcoming year, and taking input for future direction,” said Monisha Harrell of the CD Association. They want to hear from community members not only about what they want to see happen on the corner, but also discuss concerns people have about how a redevelopment might change the neighborhood.
Bangasser is not blind to concerns of gentrification. The CD Association, with the help of Seattle University MBA students, are looking into ways to give current business owners a fair opportunity to move into the new and likely more expensive retail spaces. He is also hopeful that a lot of the new housing could be workforce housing, which is rented below market rates.
But, as with any redevelopment, most the details will be at the will of the developer, and Bangasser said he has no interest in developing the property himself. Instead, he is looking to get the property rezoned to allow for a building (or buildings) as tall as as six stories and to gather community input about what would be embraced in a future development.
With Jim Mueller’s property across the street still stalled and up for sale and the city planning to repave and potentially redesign 23rd Ave in 2014 (more on that soon), big changes appear on the horizon for 23rd and Union. Though, changes have seemed to be on the horizon for years.