Finally, bids begin for Capitol Hill Station development

CHStation-TOD-area-600x467-1Planning for the massive mixed-use development sites around the future Capitol Hill light rail station has been years in the making, and now firms interested in building the projects can officially start their bids.

On Friday, Sound Transit began soliciting applications from those interested in developing the 100,000 square foot “transit oriented development” project that will be one of the most defining developments in Capitol Hill. The project will include housing, retail, and community space on five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny.

“Today is a huge milestone for Sound Transit and for the community,” said Sound Transit’s Bruce Gray. “It’s the start of the end game for us to get the parcels redeveloped. It will be a fun ride from here on out.”

The request for qualifications is not meant to solicit actual plans for the five-site project but to vet the qualifications of interested firms. Qualified respondents will be shortlisted, then required to participate in a series of community meetings to gather more input on the project. The RFQ is clear that interested developers cannot propose changes to the development agreement hammered out between the city, Sound Transit, and various community groups including the Capitol Hill Champion.

Late last summer, the City Council finalized the plan for the development agreement to open up development of parts of the projects to 85-foot height limits in exchange for affordable housing.

The community-forged development agreement also sets mandates for affordable housing, a community cultural center, space for the Broadway Farmers Market, and ample room for green space and bicycle and pedestrian connections. The Champion compiled its findings from a community survey here (PDF).The RFQ also includes a letter from the Champion directing developers to the group’s developer portal.

Among those features, the development agreement also specifies limits on density, building heights, and the number of dwelling units. CHS recently reported on the Champion’s current activies after the Development Agreement was hammered out.

Capitol Hill Station TOD — Request for Qualifications (Sound Transit)

Interested developers will have about two months to submit their proposals. Sound Transit will announce the shortlist in May, with community meetings to start in June. Final proposals will be due in September with the developer for each parcel announced in October of this year. Final plans approved by March 2015. CHS will be following up with bids as they come in.

Firms are required to document their experience with similar projects, the financial capability to fund the project, and demonstrate the ability to finish the project in 48 months. CHS attempted to reach several developers who have shown interest in the project. We’ll update if we hear anything back. Some, like Vulcan, may already have decided to move forward with other projects.

During a July city council meeting, a representative from Jonathan Rose 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.

Firms interested in working on the project as a “master developer” or as a developer of just one of the four sites are encouraged to submit their qualifications. Sound Transit will decide whether to use one or multiple developers during the proposal process. Seattle Central Community College has the right of first refusal to develop Site D, where work is currently underway to build part of the underground station and pedestrian concourse.

Site A, Main Station Block, 118 Broadway East

  • 46,487square feet
  • Mixed-use required
  • Minimum residential unit count–132 including MFTE requirement

Site B-North, Main Station Block, 923 East John Street

15,878squarefeet

  • Affordable housing restricted, 100% total units
  • Minimum residential unit count–86
  • No retail

Site B-South, Main Station Block, 123 10th Avenue East

  • 15,459 square feet
  • Minimum residential unit count–85 including MFTE requirement
  • No retail

Site C, South Station Entrance, 1830 Broadway

  • 17,683 square-feet
  • Mixed-use required
  • Minimum residential unit count–94 including MFTE requirement

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 to have Site A complete.

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.

Meanwhile, the actual light rail station is about 40% complete with construction expected to wrap up in mid to late 2015.

7 thoughts on “Finally, bids begin for Capitol Hill Station development

  1. one little correction –
    “While it’s very unlikely the entire development site will be ready by then, officials expect to have Site A complete” – this was a dream a couple of years back. Sound Transit expects to announce developers in October 2014, and approve the sales in March 2015. Then design and design review will follow. If we’re lucky, there will be buildings under construction by the time the station opens in early 2016.
    What’s important is to have well-designed, thoughtfully tenanted and well-managed development on these sites, with additional community benefits incorporated – don’t think empty lots are going to be lingering in this location…….

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