The Seattle City Council Monday afternoon approved legislation laying out a development agreement between Sound Transit and the City of Seattle for the land surrounding the under-construction Capitol Hill light rail station that will allow developers to build to 85 feet along Broadway in exchange for meeting affordable housing requirements.
The approval marks the fruition of a multi-year process lead by the city and a Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce-Capitol Hill Community Council joint venture to forge a consensus for how best to frame requirements for developing the 19 properties Sound Transit purchased along Broadway to construct Capitol Hill Station.
Those properties now sliced into five parcels will be put up for the highest — and best — bidders later this year once the Sound Transit board approves the agreement — though hopes for much of the development to be complete by the time the first train pulls into Capitol Hill Station in 2016 seem increasingly dim.
Still, the agreement is looked upon as a triumph in City Hall and planning committee chair Richard Conlin said Monday that officials will look at the agreement as a template for future transit oriented development around Sound Transit projects.
Of the more than 400 apartment units possible across the five sites, the agreement sets groundwork for nearly 40% to achieve the city’s affordable housing mark — 50% of the area’s median income, or around $30,000 per year for a one-person household. The total could climb close to 50% if Site D is developed in conjunction with Seattle Central Community College as student housing.
In exchange, developers will be able to build above current height restrictions on the parcels — in some cases, the 85-foot limit will be 45 feet above current zoning. Projects will also be subject to a streamlined design review process that will be especially efficient should any developer end up working on multiple parcels under the agreement.
CHS detailed the agreement’s particulars here as the plan took shape late last year.
The next community push for inclusion in the process, it seems, will come as the formal “request for qualifications” begins later this fall and potential bidders and their plans are assessed.
In addition to the affordability requirements, officials also tout a few more progressive milestones reached in the Capitol Hill process. Access to a quasi-public plaza that could be utilized by a year-round Broadway Farmers Market is required by the agreement — though the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance is not specified by name in the documents. A provision for the possible creation of a community center in the project is included. The development agreement, Conlin said, also represents the first time the City of Seattle has set a parking maximum for a development — the projects must keep the parking to living unit ratio below 0.7. It will also, Conlin added, require the creation of parking for more than 260 bicycles.