Capitol Hill Station retail and housing: $25M price tag, one developer drops out, plans due in December

We'll be seeing more proposals for the development around Capitol Hill Station soon. Here's one rendering from a past American Institute of Architecture Students project.

We’ll be seeing more proposals for the development around Capitol Hill Station soon. Here’s one rendering from a past American Institute of Architecture Students project.

Developers have finally submitted their proposals for the four sites that will make up the retail, housing, and community surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station. Sound Transit says it is now reviewing plans submitted by the shortlisted teams. Officials must also decide if the four parcels should be developed separately, or if one firm will act as “master developer” for the 100,000 square feet “transit oriented development” that will include housing, commercial, and a community spaces. There’s also an official price tag now: $25 million.

Sound Transit’s initial property valuations were echoed by the agency’s outside analyst, which released a detailed appraisal of all five sites last week. The appraisals by Valbridge Property Advisors gives an interesting, albeit dry glimpse into the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes in the very early stages of planning many Capitol Hill developments.

In addition to considering constraints of the community development agreement, the appraiser evaluated how the neighborhood and transit-centered location would increase the property’s value. The report also analyzed nearby property sales:Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 3.47.59 PM

In total, the four TOD properties were valued at $25 million. Here’s how the appraisals break down:

Site A: $9.1 million
Site B North: $2.8 million
Site B South: $6.2 million
Site C: $6.9 million

The $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. Sound Transit forecasts that by 2030, there will be 14,000 boardings a day at Capitol Hill Station. The transit oriented development around the station on Broadway could add as many as 400 apartments to the site.

As of right now, Sound Transit says all shortlisted developers are still in the running except The Wolff Company.  Sound Transit did not confirm which shortlisted developers are still in the running but did confirm The Wolff Company has dropped out. A company representative did not return CHS requests for comment on why the Arizona-based developers dropped out. Wolff also owns the completed Sunset Electric building and the under-construction Pike Motorworks development.

UPDATE: CHS has obtained a copy of the letter Wolff sent to notify Sound Transit of its intention to drop out of the process. It’s a seemingly tough review of the process citing the drawbacks of cost, uncertainty around ownership and retail constraints around the project and may not bode well for the proposals for developers considering the Site A component of the project:

Sound Transit Letter 9.18.14

Unfortunately, the rest of us will have to wait until December to see what developers dreamt up, after Sound Transit evaluates the proposals and makes its final recommendations to the Sound Transit board. “It needs to be done this way because there may be negotiations with the proposers between now and the final recommendations,” said Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray in an email to CHS.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit recently released more information on how the value of each property was appraised, which had been a point of contention with developers.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-30-at-10.58.03-AM-600x2691

Back in August, the shortlisted developers were arguing that the four parcels were significantly overvalued by Sound Transit. Developers were especially concerned about Site A, where half of the parcel must be reserved for a semi-public community plaza, as per the community-forged development agreement that will allow developers to build to 85 feet along Broadway in exchange for meeting affordable housing requirements.

At Sound Transit’s $403 per square foot estimate, the 46,000 square foot Site A lot would’ve cost around $18.5 million. But Sound Transit later clarified that the $403 estimate only applied to the “developable” land, bringing the parcel’s total cost down to $9.1 million.

Sound Transit’s clarification came in before the October 10th extended November deadline for developers to submit their proposals. That should help pave the way for more robust plans with smaller potential budgets going toward the land.

Capitol Hill SAP

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