Community feedback on Capitol Hill Station development: More affordable, more gay, OK?

All that anxiety you’ve been feeling about the Capitol Hill light rail station’s transit oriented development process? Don’t worry about it. The powers that be have pushed the next steps in the legislative process back into the coming new year. Meanwhile, those powers are also digesting a recent report on the public feedback received about the proposals that would open up development to build 85-feet high along Broadway and include an unprecedented amount of affordable housing. According to the city, you liked most of that plan — especially a push for an LGBTQ community center element — and many of you supported the additional height and wouldn’t mind seeing the affordable housing component of the plan strengthened even more. 

A summary of the comments is below. You can review verbatim comments on the City of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Station planning site.

Next steps on the process side of things will happen at City Hall as the Seattle City Council takes up the matter of approving the station’s development agreement in early 2013. The clock is ticking though Sound Transit is already backing off the idea that the development around its station will be complete when the U-Link light rail extension goes online in 2016.

CHS reported on the recently forged “coordinated development plan” between the city and Sound Transit for the land surrounding the Capitol Hill Station site currently owned by the transit agency. Community members working on the plan say it is unprecedented in its framework requiring affordable housing be part of the development of the prime Broadway real estate around the future station. Of the 400 apartment units planned across the five sites that will be sold off under the plan, the agreement currently calls for 36% to achieve the city’s affordable housing mark — a mix of 60% and 80% of the area’s median income, or around $30,000 per year for a one-person household. (We’ve corrected the description of the planned affordability from the 50% of median income included in the original post.)

Here’s the summary of the public feedback so far as reported by the city:

Overall, the majority of comments received during this process support both the term sheet and the City of Seattle and Sound Transit’s process to date. Those comments will be responded to in the month of October and in advance of the Development Agreement process beginning.

Comments expressed significant support for requirements and bonus points in the Term Sheet for af-fordable housing. In addition, some commented they would like to see the Term Sheet go further with depth and/or duration of affordability.

Most of the comments support an increase in height that allows for increased development capacity on the sites; however several others expressed concern regarding the additional 20 feet and a potential impact on the plaza, festival street and neighborhood scale

Community/Cultural Center:
Strong support for inclusion of a cultural/community center and for it to have a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) focus. Some expressed support of a cultural/community center with LGBTQ activities/services included in the programming.

Amenity Areas:
Comments support creation of Denny Way “Festival Street” and a few comments spoke to further lim-iting vehicle traffic, while another spoke to including two-way traffic.

Support received reinforced the inclusion of the Broadway Farmer’s Market in the plaza.

While support remains for the plaza, some questions were asked and concerns raised regarding its programming and oversight. Comments were received indicating the desire for art to be mandated in the plaza.

Design Considerations:
Comments expressed support for the required setbacks included in the Term Sheet. Some questioned the adequacy of the setbacks and their ability to provide solar access to the plaza and festival street.

Sustainability and Green Factor:
Comments support the requirements for green factor and sustainability listed in the Term Sheet. Some encouraged additional requirements and the flexibility for developers to take advantage of local re-sources in the future.

Comments included general support for a maximum parking ratio of 0.7 and the unbundling of spots from unit cost. Several comments encouraged requiring a lower parking ratio and unbundling parking across all sites. One comment encouraged accommodating for scooters.

Modified Design Review:
Comments encouraged maximum flexibility in order for future developers to further realize the community’s vision. A few comments suggested clearer, less architectural language in the design guidelines.

Additional Comment Themes:

Master Developer: Comments encourage the ability for a master developer to be competitive during the RFQ/RFP process and believe greater community benefit can be achieved by this approach.

Office Space: Several comments encouraged flexibility in the permitted uses across the site beyond those solely residential.

Retail: Many comments spoke to the desire to provide incentives for developers to include local retail and small business. Several expressed a desire to have retail face and support the programming of the plaza and farmer’s market.



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4 thoughts on “Community feedback on Capitol Hill Station development: More affordable, more gay, OK?

  1. I still think this location is ideal for a hotel. People could go directly from Sea-Tac to the hotel and it would appeal to visitors who do not need or want a car. There is really only one hotel in the Broadway area (the Silver Cloud), and there are plenty of reasons tourists/visitors would enjoy the Hill. The hotel could have a restaurant that opens onto the plaza, and imagine if they made a roof-top or balcony bar with a view of the city. We could finally create a hotel bar that attracts locals and possibly becomes a favorite addition to the nightlife scene (think NYC, Chicago or LA).
    I know that some people had mentioned a hotel during the initial planning stages…any word on whether this may still be part of the potential plan?

  2. For all those asking for an LGBT center, that’s fine, but where were you when there was one on Pike Street? Remember it closed!?

    I know I didn’t go to this meeting, but I’m in support of having a community center for everyone, including LGBTQ-specific aspects, but also other aspects, in order to be of value to all in the community.

    People on Capitol Hill aren’t all about strict identity politics and single indentities. More people go to Q than would ever go to an LGBTQ center. So just build one for everyone.

  3. I am 100% in favor of some kind of rooftop deck on a 85-foot tower. Perhaps a bar at the top or something like that. I used to live at the Heights just below where this station will sit and the view from this part of the hill is absolutely stunning. A rooftop bar will be incredibly popular. It would be much better than a rooftop restaurant as that would end-up being a touristy restaurant with crap food, while a bar will be more accessible to the neighborhood.

  4. Agree completely! It would be very unwise to open a space specifically for the LGBT community, as it would be greatly underutilized, just like the one on Pike was underutilized and eventually closed. It would make alot more sense to have a space for the entire community, or even from other neighborhoods, with perhaps specifying that a certain percentage of use would be for LGBT events.