The First Annual Summer Fair at Othello Square

Earlier this month we attended the first annual Othello Square Summer Fair, a festive celebration of the Othello community and the neighborhood’s future. Weber Thompson led the effort to develop a Master Plan for the Othello Square project, and is the architect for two and landscape architect for all of the four buildings planned for the site. 

One building is Orenda, a mixed-use affordable housing development including spaces for the Odessa Brown Children’s clinic (designed by NBBJ) and early learning (designed by Donna Brown). The other is The Opportunity Center at Othello Square, a combination of affordable rental housing, space for local retail and non-profit organizations including a Cultural Innovation Center, and community economic empowerment and education focused groups.

We were so grateful for the opportunity to attend the event, connect with community members and help answer questions about this pivotal project taking shape in their neighborhood.

WT Landscape Architecture Principal, Rachael Meyer, discusses the open space plans with community members.

Keeping with the theme that our Landscape Architecture Studio developed for the project’s open spaces, In Bloom, the Weber Thompson team decided to set up our booth as a seed planting station. Attendees were encouraged to grab a compostable pot, fill it with soil (generously donated by Cedar Grove) and drop in a scarlet runner bean to take home with them to cultivate. We encouraged participants to share on social media with the hashtag #NeighborhoodinBloom, so we can follow along as their seeds sprout and bloom. Members of the Weber Thompson staff were on hand during the event to help answer questions about the landscape concept or assist with successful seed planting.

Photos from the planting station

The enthusiasm and energy that attendees brought to our seed planting station extended to the development as well. An aura of anticipation was omnipresent during the celebration. We talked to a few of the team members helping to make the project a reality to get their take. Tony To, Project Developer at HomeSight described the project as “a physical embodiment in four buildings of a lot of aspirations that this community has wanted for decades.” He further described the project as “a project that is trying to harness resources and create a sustainable ecosystem to achieve community purpose.”

Here’s what other team members had to say:

Tony To

Kaitlin Boyce
Spectrum Development

Wilma Miller-White
Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic

Vivian Valencia
Verity Credit Union

Abdulhamid Hassen
Multicultural Community Coalition

The development is complex and contains a variety of uses including rental and ownership housing, community facilities, open space, retail, an economic opportunity center, childcare, education, healthcare and wellness components. Here are a few fast stats about the project:

  • The site will provide 400 mix-income apartments and 68 affordable homes for purchase.
  • The project’s retail and opportunity center components will contain 70% minority and women-owned businesses.
  • Eight anchor cultural institutions will serve over 10,000 immigrants, refuges, and people of color annually.
  • The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic will provide medical, dental, mental health and nutrition services for 8,000 families annually.

Clearly, Othello Square is a complex development with many partners working collaboratively to see the project to completion. In addition to Weber Thompson, the other entities involved in the project include HomeSight, Barrientos | RYAN, the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in conjunction with Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy, the Southeast Seattle Multicultural Community Center Coalition, Stem Paths Innovation Network, Tiny Tots and Verity Credit Union.

You can learn more about the story behind the design here, and view more pictures from the celebration below.

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