Seattle Mayor Ed Murray responded Friday to small-business owners in the Central District who have complained about the city’s 23rd Avenue reconstruction project. Mitigation money remains off the table, however.

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray responded Friday to small-business owners in the Central District who have complained about the city’s 23rd Avenue reconstruction project.

The business owners have said the long-term project has hurt their sales and could result in them shutting their doors. They’ve criticized the way the project has been handled and have asked for support from the city in the form of mitigation money.

But officials have refused to help in that way, saying the city never offers mitigation money to businesses impacted by its construction projects, as a matter of policy.

That remains the mayor’s stance, despite a news release Friday saying the city will boost support for businesses along 23rd Avenue, where roadwork began last May.

The release cites $100,000 from Murray’s Office of Economic Development (OED) awarded to the Central Area Collaborative, a new business and community group.

That money, OED Director Brian Surratt told The Seattle Times this week, will go to build the organization — not directly to businesses impacted by the 23rd Avenue work.

The release also says the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will reorder the project’s construction schedule to reopen 23rd Avenue between South Jackson Street and East Yesler Way earlier than planned — in March rather than April or May.

The multiyear project — remaking what’s now a four-lane street into a three-lane street with one lane in each direction and a left-turn lane down the center — has closed a mile of the Central District’s main drag to northbound traffic for many months.

SDOT is rebuilding 4 ½ miles of 23rd and 24th avenues between Rainier Avenue South and East Roanake Street. The Jackson-Yesler stretch is three blocks long.

The rebuilt 23rd Avenue will have new pavement, wider sidewalks, new streetlights, new traffic signals giving priority to transit, fewer bus stops (to improve speed), and a new water main, plus a new greenway along side streets for bicycling and walking.

OED and SDOT will engage more with the business owners, Murray’s release says.

“We will do more to respond to the needs and concerns of business owners, with marketing assistance, improved signage and individualized consultations,” he said.

“We want all of our Central Area businesses to succeed during the disruption. When the project is complete, neighborhood businesses and residents will enjoy a more walkable, active atmosphere with improved access to shops and services.”