Community speaks up for Capitol Hill Station development plans

The City Council's agreement with Sound Transit will set the rules for how the land surrounding Capitol Hill Station will be put to use

The City Council’s agreement with Sound Transit will set the rules for how the land surrounding Capitol Hill Station will be put to use

Require the farmers market, ensure affordable housing, and build a community center. Those were the overarching themes at Monday night’s public comment session on the plans for developing the properties around the future Capitol Hill Station.

Several dozen people gathered yesterday at the Miller Community Center to voice their opinions on the the plans to develop what will become a defining project on Broadway and Capitol Hill. Those plans are laid out in the Development Agreement and 2011 Urban Design Framework that has been hammered out between Sound Transit, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, and the neighborhood group Capitol Hill Champion.

Council member Richard Conlin presided over the meeting. He said the city is nearing a deal with Sound Transit to have more definitive answers on developer requirements regarding a community center and farmers market. The plans are slated go for a vote by the city’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability committee July 24th.

Much of the public comment was in support of requiring developers to make space for a farmers market prior to Sound Transit selling the TOD property.

Asif Alvi, owner of Perfect Copy and Print, said he was discouraged that his 23-year-old business had to relocate one block for the development of the station site.

“We will be pushed around again, we will be displaced again, ” he said. “It’s very important we keep smaller spaces to keep the flavor of Capitol Hill.”

Kristin Ryan of Jonathan Rose Companies was the only developer to speak at last night’s meeting. She said her company was interested in bidding as a master developer for the project — a single owner of the thousands of square feet up for grabs along Broadway. She asked the Council members to consider several changes to the development agreement, including allowing developers more flexibility on height and density.

Here is a selection of other comments from the session:

  • “We need written assurances prior to the developer getting the contract … We need secure permanant lodging for this market.” — Ivy Fox, Manager of Broadway Farmers Market.
  • “I’m not in support of the lesbian, gay, transgender community center, even though I’m gay … we should have a community center that is open to all.” — Dennis Saxman, Capitol Hill resident.
  • “I’m very supportive of the plan and very interested in developing Site D … We could even put retail.” — Paul Killpatrick, President Seattle Central Community College.
  • “Density doesnt help if people can afford to live in those dense units.” — Brie Gyncild, 23-year Capitol Hill resident.
  • “Farmers need predictability and stability for them to make their business decisions.” — Karen Kinney, Executive Director Washington State Farmers Market Association.

The meeting comes after city council members got their first official look at the plans during last month’s Planning Land Use and Sustainability committee meeting.

CHS has covered the five year long process to create a plan for developing the five properties around the station.

The TOD plans outline design and use goals for five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny, currently owned by Sound Transit. The 100,000-square-foot development will include housing, commercial, and a community center spaces.

The first trains are slated to roll through Capitol Hill Station in 2016. While it’s very unlikely the entire development site will be ready  by then, officials expect that contract bidding will start this year so Site A will be ready in 2016.

The prime — and currently mostly empty real estate — will be a defining feature of Broadway and the neighborhood overall. Most involved in the process (as well as every mayoral candidate interviewed by CHS) say they want to ensure this TOD site avoids the pitfalls of sites like Beacon Hill, where empty lots still surround the station.

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15 thoughts on “Community speaks up for Capitol Hill Station development plans

  1. >>“I’m not in support of the lesbian, gay, transgender community center, even though I’m gay … we should have a community center that is open to all.” — Dennis Saxman, Capitol Hill resident.

    I have to agree with this, and I’m gay too. I don’t believe a LGBT community center would survive without constant propping up with funding by the city– which could dry up at any time. It wasn’t so long ago we had a LGBT community center on Pike Street, and it didn’t last very long. Yes, there are many groups who could use such a space, but there are also plenty of other resources around CapHill for groups to meet. I would have to see some more compelling case than I’ve seen so far about a need going unfilled. There is probably a better use for the space.

    • I agree. Maybe have resources available for gay youth, health outreach, et cetera, but don’t we already have that with Gay City? I don’t quite understand what a gay community center purpose is? I think just having a community center is much more valuable as it brings folks together, instead of categorizing them based on other traits.

      What I really hope for on this site is some amazing architecture: good materials, innovative design, active street interaction, vibrant and interesting retail. I always thought that some second story restaurant space on the south east corner that has a large outdoor deck that overlooked Cal Anderson Park would be a popular dining spot.

      • “I always thought that some second story restaurant space on the south east corner that has a large outdoor deck that overlooked Cal Anderson Park would be a popular dining spot.”

        THIS!! SO MUCH THIS!! That’s the best idea ever. I love that idea.

  2. These sites are ideal for dense, affordable housing. Where in Seattle will hundreds of new Seattle residents, perhaps recent grads, be able to live affordably without owning cars? Right here! What other site can give them fast commutes on public transit to downtown, campuses, hospitals, SeaTac, and some of Seattles fastest growing hospitals.

    Please give some qualified developer the right to greater height and density than current zoning permits, and in exchange ask for a larger number of small and affordable units, including some that accommodate physical disabilities, because this site could also be ideal for wheelchair users. And as part of larger development plan, let’s have beautifully landscaped and thoughtfully designed public space at ground level for an urban farmer’s market and other community amenities.

    • I guess you are suggesting that apodments are included in the development. I wouldn’t be opposed to some units of that size, but without shared kitchens….more like small studios, with comparably lower rent…..but I think that the housing should include units with a range of sizes, and a range of rents, so that real diversity will be achieved. Capitol Hill Housing would be the ideal manager of this, as they have a great track record of affordable, but liveable apartments.

      I’m not sure what the current height restriction is, but I hope the new buildings will be no more than 4 stories. We don’t need high-rises on Capitol Hill!

  3. Pingback: LGBTQ biz group busy on Hill opening gay tourism center, holding ‘Evolution of the Gay-borhood’ forum | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  4. Pingback: LGBTQ biz group busy on Hill opening gay tourism center, holding ‘Evolution of the Gay-borhood’ forum | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  5. As an out and proud 30-something lesbian, I have to agree with Dennis here. I don’t see any practical reason to have an LGBTQ community center, especially one whose funding is potentially completely dependent on either private donations or government support. We currently have community centers all over town that are barely making it, and subsidized to a great extent by the City of Seattle, and the City has a shrinking pot of money for these spaces. Is there a private donor willing to stand up to pay to build and operate this space? Like previously mentioned, we are a community that could barely keep the tiny run down space on Pike open (and ultimately could not), let alone something new like this. Lastly, I don’t think the modern understanding of the gay identity fits with the idea of a neighborhood-based community center. Isn’t the success of Cap Hill as a “gay neighborhood” that people now feel comfortable living all over the City? As a lesbian, I have a hard time understanding what I would come to this space for…we don’t need to hold hands and sing gay songs together anymore…just sayin’

    If we do go this route, I really really hope we talk to folks in San Fran who did this same thing, and have struggled to make it work, this City bail outs ensued there. And they have a much larger, wealthier, concentrated group of LGBTQ folks there. Again, just sayin’

    http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2010/03/30/city-lends-lgbt-community-center-a-hand/

    It is rare that I agree with Dennis, but here, I do.

  6. One change I’d like to see in general in Hill developments that include commercial spaces is smaller commercial units. In other words, take the same amount of space allocated to commercial units and break it into smaller pieces to increase the number of small businesses that can afford to rent spaces in the new buildings. The current trend favors large chains since mainly they have the resources to afford the large spaces.

  7. I’m an out and proud lesbian but I can’t say I fully agree here. Gay City is fabulous and their library serves the whole community but the health service is for gay men (and maybe some trans men?). Ingersoll helps the transgender community. There’s not really much for lesbians. We may not need a large center, but I’d like to see something (with thought put into a sustainable funding model) especially as many of us have witnessed an increase in homophobia and homophobic acts as the composition of our neighborhood has changed. And to the commenter who says that we don’t have to hold hands and sing gay songs together anymore, it is true that there is more acceptance these days, but many are also choosing to blend in and become invisible (I don’t know you, so I don’t know your specific story). Those of us who don’t still face discrimination and find it helpful to have places like the community centers. I think it’s nice to keep the tradition of the “gayborhood” going even as we are welcomed in more places.

    • This is all true, but lots of LGBT groups can still share resources with other groups that use this same space. It just doesn’t seem necessary for the LGBT community to hog it.

    • I hear you, but it would be quite unlikely that a LQBTQ center would include a health clinic. Is quality health care for lesbians really that much of a challenge? Aren’t there some lesbian doctors in Seattle? What about The Country Doctor for those without medical insurance? I’m just asking, and would be interested in your response. Thanks!

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