This June, CHS told you about yet another mixed-use apartment project making preparations to break ground on Capitol HIll:
Plans call for a six-story building with 79 apartment units above 7,800 square feet of ground level retail. Parking for 75 vehicles will be provided below and at grade. Seawest tells us there aren’t any significant changes to the five+ year-old plan. “We don’t have any significant changes to speak of, other than that we will be keeping 20% of the residential units rent affordable, as part of a program that the city is offering to selected new multifamily projects,” the rep wrote. “We will have some green space on the rooftop as well.”
Turns out, there is one significant change in plans — but it might not be the big deal that the Daily Journal of Commerce makes it out to be:
Seawest Investment Associates is preparing to start a 79-unit apartment complex in January on Capitol Hill that will have less retail, larger units and more parking than Seawest had planned before the recession.
The Kirkland developer took its cue from the downturn, and snipped nearly 2,000 square feet of retail space from the project at 954 E. Union St. There will be 6,300 square feet of retail, allowing more space for ground-floor parking and common areas.
Seawest Principal Kya Aatai said the company started working on the project in 2005, but “saw the writing on the wall” during permitting and realized that Seattle retail was hurting, especially on Capitol Hill.
Seawest’s Kya Aatai tells CHS that the DJC take on the change in the 10th and E Union Apartments building’s retail layout is overdone.
“We’ve never even considered eliminating the retail component,” Aatai said. “We believe the commercial market on Capitol Hill is strong. Perhaps it is not as vibrant and booming as it was in the past few years, but given our larger economic picture that’s understandable.”
Still, a cut is a cut. “We did end up revising the total retail space down by less than 20%, but mostly the reason was to add additional parking spaces for tenants and to increase common areas on the ground floor,” Aatai said.
Whatever the drivers for the change in plans were, all indicators point to a shifting Capitol Hill commercial base with a growing dependence on the food and drink entertainment economy. And anecdotes paint a picture of strength for spaces that can support food and drink and weakness for spaces that are retail-focused.
Maybe that’s why Capitol Hill’s Broadway will end up sharing a program with the City of Auburn to fill empty storefronts with art:
Storefronts Seattle, together with the Broadway Business Improvement Area, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Auburn, is proud to announce the continued expansion of the Storefronts program.
Beginning this Fall and Winter, Storefronts will begin to program vacant retail spaces along Capitol Hill’s Broadway retail district, as well as the Main Street corridor of downtown Auburn. Storefronts Auburn has also issued a Request for Proposals from south-end artists and artists interested in presenting work in Auburn. Please see www.storefrontsauburn.com for more information about that request.
Program Manager Matthew Richter says, “Broadway is one of the most vibrant arts neighborhoods, and artists’ neighborhoods, in Seattle. We’re thrilled to partner with the Chamber and the BIA to help energize the streetscape with a couple of quick-hit projects before these spaces rent.”
“Our expansion into Auburn with the launch of Storefronts Auburn is a great way to start connecting to communities outside of Seattle and to really start thinking about the art and artist communities of the whole Pacific Northwest region.”
Across the street, the 1111 E Union project is also awaiting approval to begin construction of a 6-story, 105-unit mixed use development. We’ll check in on any changed plans for retail in that building. During the design process for the building, parking plans were significantly slashed — only 18 stalls were planned at one point.
At 10th and Union, Aatai tells CHS that demolition of the old warehouse will begin within a month. Graffiti taggers, finish your work — you’ve nearly covered the south wall. Don’t give up now. Aatai also says the DJC got one more thing wrong in their take on the situation — the construction schedule is 12 months, not 18, so we’ll be able to see how the whole more parking, less shopping thing works out for them even sooner.