Six years ago, the Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS) purchased the property at 8323 Rainier Avenue South to establish a home base for the many programs it offers and to create a place where the community could gather. After discussing the development possibilities for many years, the ECS is exploring the opportunities afforded for development on their property at the next level, including searching out funding and meeting with local development partners. The current rate of development in South Seattle is very rapid. There is much concern in Rainier Valley about both the gentrification of the neighborhood as well as about homelessness and housing insecurity that exists among current residents. This project looks to address both of those issues while also strengthening the existing East African immigrant communities in the area.
Background on the Property:
The ECS Community Center property is located in the NC2-40 zone. This is a Neighborhood Commercial zone that allows both commercial uses and residential uses. It has a 40’ height limit that typically allows 4 stories to be built. The most common building type is 3 stories of residential apartments over street level commercial development. Parking is typically located underground or behind the development.
The ECS property is located in the Rainier Beach Residential Urban Village which brings us some advantages in terms of development, especially as it is related to parking requirements. The lot is 38,836sf (127’x305’) which will allow a building to be built that has a total aboveground square footage of 126,217sf, or approximately 31,550sf/floor.
Proposed Elements in the Development:
Residential Development (upper 3 floors) 90,000sf
Three floors with approximately 100 units, plus amenities for residents. These amenities could include a courtyard/outdoor space, a meeting room/gathering space, a small fitness center, or other communal spaces.
It's likely the units will be a mix of studios, 1BR and 2BR units. Some, or all, of the units may be designated for low-income seniors. Some units may be used as transitional housing for new immigrant families or families facing homelessness.
Commercial Development (Street level) 25-30,000sf
The street level would house the ECS offices plus a variety of expanded spaces above and beyond what is currently available in the existing building. The ECS is just beginning the process of identifying what the community wants to include. Possibilities include:
Multi-purpose hall to seat up to 600 people with the ability to divide it into two smaller spaces
Coffee shop – accessible from community center and from the street
After-school care for elementary aged children
Youth Center – space for teens and young adults
Entry plaza/street level gathering – space for people to spill out into the community, to greet and bid farewell to friends, and to welcome people into the facility
Courtyard(s) – located on the roof of the community center for residents above
Playground – located either at the courtyard level or on the upper roof
37,000sf Provide parking for community center activities and for some residents. Anticipate approximately 100 spaces located on one level below grade plus possibly an additional 10-20 spaces located on the surface. Parking level will also include utilities (electrical vault room, fire sprinkler control room, etc.), bicycle parking, storage, etc.