The historic Chinatown Gate is one of several groups in the CID that received funding. Photo by Zijun Cathy You.

In May of this year, Historic South Downtown (HSD), a Community Preservation and Development Authority, has awarded $1 million in grants to CID-based organizations to support small businesses, improve public spaces, and for cultural development. Among these organizations are the Chinese Memorial Project, CID Coalition, CID Business Improvement Association, Friends of Little Saigon, Historic China-gate Foundation, ICHS, InterIm CDA, SCIDPDA, Seniors in Action, Theater Off Jackson and the International Examiner. According the its website, HSD was created by the Washington State Legislature as the first community preservation and development authority in the state to respond to impacts from ongoing construction of major public facilities, public works and capital projects in both the Pioneer Square and Chintatown International Districtt neighborhoods.

“Our goal is to provide funding that addresses unique local issues in Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International District,” said Kathleen Barry Johnson, executive director of HSD. “We believe the community will see the impact of this funding, and see the value of the investments we’re making.”

These funds also support homelessness and housing services, such as the 3rd Avenue Engagement team of the Downtown Emergency Services Center. Homelessness has been a major hot button issue in the neighborhood for residents who are concerned about public safety around storefronts and others who are concerned about the intensifying housing crisis. This same grant will also contribute $60,000 to Compass Housing’s services in neighboring areas.

HSD has worked on projects in the area that comprises what the City of Seattle calls ‘South Downtown, which includes Pioneer Square, the CID, the Stadium District and the Rainier Corridor nearby. This designation from the city has directed how the city has addressed major development issues; most notably, the controversial 2017 up-zone of major sections of the Chinatown-International District that are closer to the downtown core and mass transit. Advocates have been attempting to steer policy conversations around displacement and development with activism and policy advocacy. Particularly, two of the major concerns voiced by residents in the neighborhood is the dissipation of neighborhood character in terms of aesthetics and rising rents.

Recently, advocates spoke out against the KODA Condominiums, which are currently under construction at 4th Ave. S. and S. Main Street, adjacent to Hirabayashi Place. The CID Coalition wrote an op-ed in the Seattle Times saying, “Speculative real estate will increase rents and property taxes of small businesses, threatening their ability to stay in the neighborhood and diminishing the overall health and vitality of the community. For communities of color, unchecked market-rate development leads to destabilization, not revitalization.” The CID Coalition, who has been leading the charge on advocacy on displacement, received $10,000 in order to facilitate conversations around displacement and community control.

For small businesses, the HSD funded projects like the CID-Business Improvement Association’s Neighborhood Marketing project that are aimed at addressing displacement of small businesses. SCIDpda is also planning a business development workshop, which will provide technical support and outreach to new immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the area.

HSD’s grant program has been partially funded by King County, and they are expected to announce another round of grant funding this month. Go to www.historicsouthdowntown.org and look at their 2018-2021 Strategic Plan if you have an idea that you think can help the CID or the area.

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