Proposed high-rise in International District sparks concern among community

KING 5's Lili Tan reports.

SEATTLE – Graffiti and #VanishingSeattle stickers cover the English-only sign notifying Seattle's International District residents that change may be coming.

“Notice of proposed lane use action,” the sign reads.

Local developer Hotel Concepts has proposed a 14-story mixed-use project at 8th Avenue S. and S. Lane Street, featuring more than 150 hotel rooms, 100 apartments and condos, plus retail space and underground parking.

Some community members in the International District know Seattle is developing rapidly, but they are pushing back, hoping to stop a high-rise from being built and preserve a historic neighborhood.

“It was really part of our upbringing and also a part of our cultural identity,” community organizer Vic Vong said.

She and other young organizers with the group Humbows Not Hotels gathered more than 50 people Saturday to discuss traffic concerns surrounding the proposed hotel site, since there is a medical center and assisted living facility across the street. There are gentrification concerns as well.

“People are getting replaced, displaced, and evicted," said Vong, who lives in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. "We're seeing a place where used to be one of the few places we could go and immerse ourselves in a place we felt was home, and now it’s a place that’s becoming invaded and kind of eroded."

Some others who live in the International District feel similarly.

“We see young professional moving into the neighborhood, but they're not actually spending money in the neighborhood,” said Rachtas Dahn, whose family came to the United States from Vietnam.

However, for Seattle’s oldest Chinese restaurant, change is another flash in the pan.

“See change a lot – gradually little bit by little bit. We have to look at how we can balance,” Tai Tung Restaurant owner Harry Chan said.

Chan, who has lived and worked in the neighborhood since the 1960s, believes the development could create more job opportunities in the area.

He thinks there is a way for the I.D. to move forward without leaving behind its identity. However, what he doesn’t want to see is the International District becoming an extension of the downtown area.

“I want to see the neighborhood balanced -- not only just commercial but at the same time help the older people can have the place for them to stay here,” Chan said.

The hotel, expected to be a Springhill Suites Marriott, is still in the design process, according to Hotel Concepts’ website. The developer reportedly hopes to break ground this summer if the city signs off on the project.

Seattle’s International Special Review District Board, which reviews development projects in historic city neighborhoods, meets next on Tuesday. 

Copyright 2017 KING


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