Hi Mr. Smith,
I hope this message finds you well. My name is Tanya Woo and I grew up in the Chinatown-International District (CID) in my dad’s building—the Historic Louisa Hotel. When he passed away, I continued my family legacy and redeveloped this building into 84 workforce apartment units and seven commercial spaces. This project is much smaller in scale compared to all your current projects. Your company and your family are committed to creating a vital, vibrant, and compelling future for Seattle. Your principles of sustainable development, smart growth, increased density, and transformational place-making are true. You have been involved with some amazing projects that have done a lot of good to many communities! Our community was very excited when we heard there were plans to develop that area around Airport Way and 4th Avenue. It would have revitalized our neighborhood!
King County had entered into a two-year lease with you for that property during the pandemic and are now saying that if they hadn’t renewed that lease and leased a larger area for five years for $54 million, you would have forced them to close down that shelter. Is that true? They imply that they were forced into it and since they have this land now, they will enlarge the shelter. Did you know they are doing all this with minimal outreach and engagement with the community? They did not consider the concentration of poverty in that area nor the impacts of such a project on a minority neighborhood filled with immigrants and refugees with limited speaking abilities.
From a social justice and racial equality perspective, we do not believe that the current tenant on that property shares your perceived values and principles. I am requesting a meeting with you and your team to chat about the active harm being done to our community. I feel like perhaps you did not realize the systemic racism we’ve had to endure with King County and a history of forced high impact projects. That includes I-5, all the stadiums, and Sound Transit, going back as far as the first Chinatown.
I believe your family history and our community history has been intertwined for hundreds of years. The Smith Tower sits on the borders of the second Chinatown. The first Chinatown sat at the waterfront and we have been pushed to where we are now—the third and final Chinatown. The land that you own which you have leased to King County stands to displace our community and promotes redlining.
We’d love to meet with you to discuss this further. Please send me a couple of dates and times and we can meet at a place of your choosing or I would love for you to come visit us in Chinatown for a neighborhood tour.
— Tanya Woo
Friends of Seattle Chinatown International District