SEATTLE-The upcoming completion of two redevelopment projects at the west end of the International District is bringing new office space and national retailers to the area, sparking concern about quality of life in the distinctly Asian community.

Celebrating the diversity is Uwajimaya Village, a 60,000-sf mixed-use development at South Sixth Avenue and Dearborn Street that will open in six weeks. Anchored by the namesake Asian Food and Gifts Market and 176 apartment units, retail tenants include Yuriko’s Cosmetics, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Inay’s Kitchen, Honeymoon Tea, Washington Mutual Bank and a number of Asian eateries.

Not so typical of the neighborhood is 505 Union Station, the nearly complete 11-story glass office building being constructed by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose new football stadium is being built a few parcels further west where the Kingdome once stood. A Starbucks coffeehouse is opening this week in the office building.

Frank Kiuchi, executive director of the Interim Community Development Association, says the Asian immigrants and small business owners who have made the International District their home for years are in danger of being forced out, threatening the community that has been created.

“We’re concerned about much more than just the way it looks,” Kiuchi says. “The value of property and rentals are going up tremendously as a result of recent development. Property tax has gone up 30% to 40% in the last year and small businesses and low-income housing are certainly under threat.

“We want to make sure that there is still a place for small businesses and that we preserve the Asian flavor. We also want to make sure there’s still affordable housing.”

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