Seattle Globalist on Columbia City + Gentrification

Seattle Globalist’s Sharon H. Chang has the following article up on the varying opinions regarding the gentrification of Columbia City. The whole piece is worth a read hereColumbia-City-2-700x467

The Angeline went up fast with constructionBEGINNING mid-2013, but doors on its 193 living units and 30,000 square fee of street level retail alreadyOPENING this summer. Many expressed shock at the newly advertised apartment rental rates, ranging from $1,755 per month for a studio to $3,265 per month for a 2-bedroom. The building boasts a private theater room, rooftop terrace, fitness center, and anchor commercial tenant PCC Natural Markets — aGROCERY STORE with a price point that keeps even middle income families from being able to shop there on a regular basis.

The building’s rapid rise has amplified those awkward conversations about gentrification in Columbia City.

For Randolph Cross, proud member of The Royal Esquire Club, just a few blocks up Rainier Ave, it may not be such a bad thing. The Esquire Club was founded in 1948 by five young Seattle Black men “to promote social and civic betterment in the community, city, state and country.” It moved to Columbia City in 1986. Cross said the club is glad to be part of revitalizing the neighborhood.

“Revitalization brings families and children out into public,” he explained. “People now find this a viable community like the Ballards and Magnolias.”

A Seattle native, Cross grew up in the Madison Valley area, which he loved.

“I remember what [Columbia City] used to be like,” he said, “shady establishments, shady people.”

He’s pleased with the neighborhood changes, and thinks the Angeline is needed development. He says he looks forward to improvements extending further south where he now lives in Rainier Beach.

“They just keep pushing us out”

But other longtime locals disagree. I spoke to one Black woman who went to Rainier Beach high school in the ‘70s and has worked in Columbia City for 20 years. She asked not to be identified for fear of blowback in the neighborhood.

“Suddenly in 2002 they started calling it ‘gentrification,’” she recalled bemusedly, thenCONTINUED seriously, “All it means to me is pushing Blacks out of one area into another area. They just keep pushing us out…

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