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JPMorgan Chase Foundation awards agency $750K to support Yesler Terrace redevelopment

Grant to support design and construction of 10th Avenue Hillclimb and feasibility study

SEATTLE – December 11, 2012 Seattle Housing Authority today announced that JPMorgan Chase Foundation has awarded it $750,000 over three years to support design and completion of the 10th Avenue Hillclimb connecting the Yesler Terrace and Little Saigon neighborhoods, and to participate in a feasibility study of a mixed-use development proposal put forward by representatives of the Little Saigon business district.  JPMorgan Chase is the first corporate foundation to invest in the physical redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace neighborhood.

“We are extremely pleased to have a civic leader such as JPMorgan Chase as a community partner at the very beginning of Yesler’s redevelopment,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority.  “This generous gift from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation demonstrates the Foundation’s vision and commitment to revitalizing Yesler Terrace, and underscores its commitment to the broader Seattle community.”

The new 10th Avenue Hillclimb will run along the Tenth Avenue South right-of-way, connecting South Jackson Street to South Main Street and increasing pedestrian flow between the Yesler Terrace, First Hill, Little Saigon and International District neighborhoods.  Currently pedestrians are required to navigate lengthy, circuitous routes between Yesler Terrace and adjacent Harborview Medical Center to the restaurants and shops of Little Saigon and the International District. The increased connectivity between these communities will lead to economic growth for small businesses, increased access to jobs, and will provide a safer and easier way for residents and workers to reach social, recreational and shopping resources.

Earlier this year, Seattle Housing contracted with the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority to host two Hillclimb design charrettes, which were interpreted in six different languages.  Representatives of the Little Saigon community and Yesler Terrace residents created a shared vision and selected preferred design elements for the Hillclimb. The design will incorporate landscaping, lighting, gathering spaces, artwork, and community garden space.  Construction of the Hillclimb is expected to begin in the Summer of 2013.

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to support Seattle Housing Authority in the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace,” said Cree Zischke, Regional Executive of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. “Its work will help to transform the community into a neighborhood that accommodates growth in Central Seattle while providing affordable housing near transit, jobs, schools and parks.  The implementation of the Hillclimb early on in the redevelopment process enables Little Saigon and the International District to be connected to, rather than isolated from, their neighboring communities.”

“The physical connection between these vibrant neighborhoods is a critical component of the redevelopment, one that these neighborhoods have desired for a long time,” said Lofton.  “With the input of residents and the gift from JPMorgan Chase, we are ready to take the Hillclimb from dream to reality.”

In addition to the Hillclimb, the gift from JPMorgan Chase will support a study of a proposal to preserve and enhance Little Saigon as a social, cultural, and economic hub of Seattle’s Vietnamese community.  In August 2012, as part of a package of legislation authorizing the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, the Seattle City Council approved Resolution 31403 presented by the Friends of Little Saigon.  The Resolution calls for  a collaboration between the City of Seattle, Seattle Housing, Friends of Little Saigon and other community members to explore the feasibility of developing a mixed-use project that could include low-income housing, affordable commercial space, and a Vietnamese cultural center.  The funds from JPMorgan Chase will support the implementation of the feasibility study.

“We look forward to working with the City, Little Saigon and others to determine how the proposal might fit with broader redevelopment,” said Lofton. 

The overall vision for the redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace community includes creating a safe, vibrant mixed-income community, supporting economic and cultural diversity, increasing economic opportunity for residents and employing sustainable, green building principles.  The redevelopment plan centers on replacing the existing 561 aging public housing units in locations throughout Yesler Terrace.