Capitol Hill Housing celebrates The Jefferson, built on a corner nobody wanted

It may have taken 40 years, the clean-up of massively contaminated soil, a City Council-approved re-zone and federal funding to help make it happen, but Capitol Hill Housing’s latest project to bring affordable housing to Seattle is ready to celebrate its grand opening with a ceremony and tours Friday afternoon:

A polluted lot in central Seattle, vacant for forty years, has been transformed into “The Jefferson” – a vibrant new affordable housing and retail construction project. On October 19, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) will hold a grand opening for this beautiful building with 40 units of affordable housing and 4,500 square feet of commercial space designed for local businesses.


The celebration will feature a tour of the project and remarks from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, CHH CEO Christopher Persons, and other officials from the State of Washington and King County.

The Jefferson Grand Opening Celebration

Friday October 19, 2012

2 – 4pm: Tour of the project

3pm: Remarks and Reception

(Image: Josh Okrent/Capitol Hill Housing)

Designed by 15th Ave E’s Environmental Works, The Jefferson stands six stories and incorporates a roster of green features including “heat recovery ventilation units, high performing windows, a low energy elevator and an ultra-high efficiency gas system.” Its 40 one and two-bedroom apartments are designated affordable — “for workers earning up to $36,000 for a single person or $41,000 for a two-person family (60% of the median income)” as CHH puts it. And while the first tenant of the 5,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space — a physical therapy facility — hasn’t exactly wowed neighbors looking forward to the new businesses in the area, the fact that The Jefferson exists at all is worth celebrating.

The city had taken possession of the contaminated lot and was looking for a plan to put it to use. After a decade of inaction, in 2008, the land was given to Capitol Hill Housing. In 2009, soil testing indicated that gasoline and benzene levels from a gas station that operated at the location starting in 1926 were hundreds of times above the state’s cleanup standards. But with a financial boost from King County, the site began cleanup efforts in fall of 2010.

Perhaps more remarkable than cleaning up a site with massively high benzene levels, the roster of parties involved in financing the project is testament to the challenge of creating an affordable housing project of this scale:

  • City of Seattle Office of Housing
  • Washington Works (State of Washington, Washington State Housing Finance Commission)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  — federal appropriation
  • KeyBank — construction and permanent lender
  • Union Bank  — Low Income Housing Tax Credit Investor
  • Impact Capital and HomeSight — pre-development financing

It all adds up to a fully-leased building and a new group of neighbors already moved-in and enjoying life at 12 and Jefferson.

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11 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Housing celebrates The Jefferson, built on a corner nobody wanted

  1. I hope that those who are constantly whining that “working people are being forced out of Capitol Hill” will take note of this building. I believe that CHH is also the developer behind the soon-to-happen building in the police parking lot just north of 12th Ave and E Pine St, and they already have 28 other properties in our neighborhood.

    For those who have very low incomes, there are the Seattle Housing Authority buildings, and Seattle Senior Housing.

  2. in this case they still have valid reason to whine. 12th & Jefferson is NOT Capitol Hill.

    I’m all for affordable housing. I was excited to hear about this one when it started because of what a toxic hell hole the land was before the project started. It’s nice to get it cleaned up.

    I too will be interested in seeing the actual finished product at 12th & Pine.

  3. I’m curious – what are the rents? Most students in the nearby colleges would qualify under the single person income guidelines. I remember being a student on the hill and being completely unable to afford rent in anything but roach manors.

  4. Actually, I don’t believe that students qualify. A friend of mine who spent last year studying abroad was a little shocked at how much rent had increased on the Hill. She ultimately found a place, but also applied to and was rejected by, a couple of rent control apartments. I think what it boils down to is being a student is your full-time job, so your actual income is irrelevant. At least is some circumstances.

  5. The unfortunate problem is that there’s a large group of people between those who can afford to buy and rent in newer development on the Hill at market rates and those who qualify for affordable housing. These people work white collar professional jobs, are college educated, but still make less than the median income levels that are used to set rents for the affordable incentive programs that the city has provided to developers.

  6. I have been a resident of Seattle’s Union Gospel mission for over 3.5 years. I came here for rehabilitation and completed the program in Feb. 2010. I have been employed part-time since then. The job I currently have is not one I intend to keep. I plan to get my CDL license and drive commercially. However I need to move out of the mission and I am looking for a place. I am 61 yrs. old and I am currently making minimum wage at a local resturant working in the kitchen. I am grossing somewhere between $800-900/mo. That will change once I get my CDL and begin my driving career. I hope you can help me. I have been at my current job for 8 mos..

  7. I don’t know about the apartments above, but the ground level retail spaces at 12th & Jefferson goes for $22/sq ft. – pretty high considering it’s right across the street from King County Recovery Services and a gas station – not exactly a great location.

  8. Not sure about the Jeffy, but my 1 bedroom apt in the Pantages is a little under $800 and the building is great. I’m assuming the Jeffy is going to be similarly priced, but I’m not sure if there’s going to be variations in rents (for 1 bedrooms, for example) because of differences in square footage.

    Yes, if everyone in a household is a student, you are not eligible for affordable housing, at least not through CHH. However, my boyfriend and I were able to live in the Pantages when I was in grad school because he was not in school at the time that I was. So a possible fix is getting a roommate, even though it might not be an attractive idea for everyone.

    I don’t think it’s a good rule, especially with so many folks going back to school on their own dime. Unfortunately, CHH didn’t make that regulation, they just have to obey it.