Location, location, location — and proximity to transit: Developers line up Broadway post office site for 5-story apartment building

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(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The “long-term holders” who purchased the building home to Capitol Hill’s post office in 2012 are lining up plans to build a five-story apartment building on the Broadway site.

Mark Craig, of Bartell’s real estate investment subsidiary Henbart which bought the property in 2012 for $3 million, confirmed the start of the public development process for the corner building home to the U.S. Post Office Broadway branch.

“We’re real excited about the location and the proximity to transit,” Craig said. UPDATE: Henbart is owned by the Bartell’s family but is not a subsidiary of the drugstore chain. Sorry for the mistake.

Across the street, while plans are firm for what will be underground at the light rail station when it starts service around two years from now, the process to develop thousands of square feet of housing, commercial, and community space above ground has just moved into a critical stage with the final roster of developers preparing proposals for the properties — and doing some jockeying on pricingThe $1.8 billion light rail extension connecting downtown to the University of Washington under Capitol Hill is expected to open for service by early 2016. The transit oriented development around the station on Broadway could add as many as 400 apartments to the site. More than a third will be built as affordable housing. Thousands of square feet of retail and a semi-public plaza that could be home to a farmers market and more are also part of the plans.

The planned 101 Broadway E development where the post office building stands now will include 45 units, ground level retail and limited, 4-stall surface parking. There will be no underground parking for residents living across the street from one of the soon-to-be busiest public transportation hubs in the region.

It’s too early to say how things will play out with the post office, Craig said. Over recent years, the USPS has slimmed down its 23rd/Union location and moved some elements like PO boxes to Broadway while consolidating more and more operations and resources like truck parking at its South Seattle facility. Given the influx of new commercial space coming to this stretch of Broadway around Capitol Hill Station, it seems the postal service should have plenty of options.

Craig said it’s also too early to say when he expect the new development to be completed. The design review process will likely play out over the next year. The subsequent financing, demolition and construction processes after that can vary anywhere from 16 months to two or three years likely putting the new building on a track just slightly ahead of the “transit oriented development.”

The first steps in development for the property mark a small re-start after a bit of a paperwork lull on the Hill for new projects in core areas even as smaller projects proliferate off the neighborhood’s main arteries. Last week, CHS reported that developers had decided to wait on a development slated for the 10th/Pine Rancho Bravo parcel, a project expected to eventually be a Pike/Pine “gateway” building connecting the nightlife and entertainment district and Cal Anderson Park.

Meanwhile, the new corner development will join a block of new buildings surrounding Dick’s Drive-in including the Lexicon Harvard Ave “boutiquement” project — now pre-leasing — and the Hollywood Lofts project under construction in the former Hollywood Video building.

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26 thoughts on “Location, location, location — and proximity to transit: Developers line up Broadway post office site for 5-story apartment building

    • I’m not keen on that idea. While they seem to have the hottest men driving, their service to my building sucks serious fecal matter. FedEx and even Amazon’s delivery service have no trouble. UPS is a perpetual bulletin board of tags on the front door every week.

  1. This is very welcome news, because that is one of the ugliest and semi-rundown buildings on Capitol Hill. It is the worst of 1950s architecture.

  2. Its a shame we are replacing a building next to what will (or should be) a major transit terminal with only 5 stories. What a wasted opportunity to maximize height and density. Short buildings = greater sprawl.

    No love lost when this building goes. Agreed with Calhoun.

  3. Lots and lots of places for a Post Office service center to go in the very near area. Especially if this doesn’t happen for a couple years. I too will not miss that horrible eyesore of a building.

    • I’m pretty sure it either DOES need to be at the spot or right in the vicinity. It’s the post office. It’s always busy and this corner has been pre-ordained as the center of the Hill (as well as being near it’s geogrphic epicenter).

      And, yes, that the geniuses at City Council and Planning approved such a nothing development where there should be a high-rise is ridiculous. These fools have little vision and have obviously never heard this proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

  4. There is no reason the post office can’t stay on the ground floor of a 50 story building or any other building on or near Broadway. When are the preservationists going to be held accountable for all of these 4 and 6 waste of space buildings. The RENTS ARE TOO DAMN HIGH because of all these short waste of space buildings. I am glad to see this ugly one story building go!

    • The preservationists are losing more than anyone. The people you can look to for blame are… the single family home owners.

      • If you’re so hell-bent on getting taller buildings built, then you need to lobby the City Council to raise height limits and stop whining on blogs. But the limits were raised only a few years ago….five stories is enough. There is a huge amount of density going in on Capitol Hill without a need to increase heights further.

      • 5 stories on THIS SITE that will replace this/a lot full of architectural garbage is not sufficient. This is EXACTLY where LARGER scale development should take place. It is a very high-traffic (one of the highest, onceDenny re-opens there) spot on a busy, main artery, across the street from (ACROSS THE STREET FROM) a big train station and just down from a major educational facility. Yet, plowing down old, historic buildings deeper in the ‘hood is ok to create HIGHER DENSITY than what is proposed here? It’s absurd and beyond idiotic.

      • Posters, please don’t blame people who dwell in beautiful and historic buildings because you want more of your high-rise toys built. they’re not toys. They are a tool to address shelter needs and they are people’s future homes. Capitol Hill will succeed best if BOTH single family/historic homes are preserved and crappy lots like this current post office corner are turned from loss into high-density wins.

      • I’m not sure how high an apartment one can economically build on this small footprint. Is it the zoning or economics that dictates this plan? Anyway it is early, there will be design review ad nauseum. Plenty of time to get your licks in.

  5. Dick’s is becoming a survival of open space, as well as the majesty that is Dick’s. I wonder if we can plant some vines around the edge?

    • Good point. I wonder how soon until the car haters of this blog rally to have Dicks shut down in favor of a 5 floor box because we can’t have any business on the hill that contains parking – because (according to some) cars, people who drive them and parking options are awful ;P

      • I hope you are joking. Dick’s cannot leave. I assume they own the land so they don’t need to worry about rising rents.

        If you are serious, Ryan on Summit, can you tell me what you have against Dick’s?

      • Seems very unlikely, as will be getting even more foot traffic with the station opening right across the street. As it is today there are very few people arriving by car compared to foot.

      • Ironically the PO just moved the 98122 PO boxes to this site, increasing car traffic. I wish car haters made an effort to block that move. There is no handicap parking and on-street parking is very limited. If it were not for the surrounding vacancies this place would be impossible to use for a person with limited mobility who has to come from 98122.

  6. Very disappointed that this will only be 5 stories, being that it is right next to a major transit hub, and the greatness that is broadway. I mean, ad a few more floors and take the pressure off of the far-reaches of the neighborhood. The city/developers have and are squandering the remaining developable plots on Broadway and the Pike/Pine areas. Has anyone thought about what happens once all of the current buildings are finished… Where is this going to go? First Hill? Central District? Neither has the brand recognition or transit of the Hill.

  7. Sorry, but compared to the crap being put up all over the city, that will be so “dated” and falling apart in 20 years, the post office looks like the Taj Mahal.

  8. So they zone the other side of Broadway next to the station for 8 floors, but this lot is 5?

    Queen Anne has a number of 9-10 floor buildings on the hill and they fit in just fine, why can’t we get the same on this lot? Queen Anne doesn’t even have light rail!

    • As Dennis pointed out, all of us posting here should give ’em hell at the design review meetings and insist on taller. As for the comments about practicality on a lot this size and cost concerns:
      1. Vancouver-style high(er) rise buildings go up on lots this small all the time
      2. If these developers can’t afford to build there, they should either sell to someone who can or Seattle Housing or SCC should step in and build a ‘workforce’ or rent controlled or combination market rate/controlled building. Pretty basic and logical stuff. ;-)

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