Only four firms left in bid to build Capitol Hill Station housing+retail sites

And then there were four. Following one bidder’s public drop from the running to develop the Capitol Hill Station housing and commercial sites, CHS has learned five other firms have also pulled out of the project. The Wolff Company decided not to submit a final proposal earlier this month, citing uncertainty around ownership and retail constraints leaving just four developers in the running to build all or part of the 100,000 square feet “transit oriented development” that will include housing, commercial, and a community spaces:

Capitol Hill Housing – Site B North

Gerding Edlen – Master developer for all sites

Jonathan Rose Companies/Capitol Hill Housing – Master developer for all sites

Lowe Enterprises – Sites A, B-South, and C

Dropped out of the race are The Wolff Company which had been pondering joining the competition for Site A, MacFarlane Partners which was making plans around a master developer role, Lennar Multifamily which dropped from Site B-South and Site C competition, Belwether Housing which cleared out of the Site B-North run, and Security Properties which dropped its bid for Site A.

The list of remaining bidders was the second part of CHS’s request to Sound Transit to obtain copies of the firm’s actual proposals. Sound Transit eventually denied the request. In an email to CHS, Sound Transit’s senior legal counsel Loren Armstrong explained why the proposals are exempt from public disclosure.

“This procurement is slightly different from a typical request for proposals,” she said. “Specifically, the submission and evaluation of proposals in this procurement is the first step in a process that for each parcel will culminate with the negotiation and execution of a unique purchase and sale agreement, with terms that are not yet defined.”

Sound Transit is expected to pick its developer(s) by January, at which time we should have some fresh project renderings in addition to details on how the project will take shape. Appraisals have placed the value of the Sound Transit properties at a combined $25 million.

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7981074701_7b6094cec1_oThe $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 will add around 400 apartments to the site.

As part of the agreement, the City of Seattle will allow the project to stretch to an 85-foot height limit — with a minimum height of 74′ 11″. Officials said going any higher would have moved the project beyond expensive fire safety thresholds. The height — some 45 feet above the current maximums for the 10th Ave E neighbors of the project — helps the development plan make space for goals driven by the community design framework while providing enough units for developers to profit and create affordable and low-income housing in the project.

Of the more than 400 units possible across the five sites, the plan calls for 36% to achieve the city’s affordable housing mark — 50% of the area’s median income. The total could climb to 46% if Site D is developed in conjunction with Seattle Central as student housing. The agreement mostly leaves how these affordability goals are achieved to the bidding developers but there are stipulations. Site B’s north section on 10th Ave E at  E John, for example, is required in the agreement to be developed as a low-income project for households making 50% or less of the area’s median income.

If you’re really, really interested in Sound Transit’s reasons for not releasing the proposals until they pick one, check out RCW 42.56.280 on “Deliberative Process.”

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14 thoughts on “Only four firms left in bid to build Capitol Hill Station housing+retail sites

  1. Hilarious. We should all be asking the question if Sound Transit knows what they are doing? Why is everyone dropping out? What a stupid process.

    • If developers are dropping out, it’s a sign that they aren’t getting ridiculous concessions they shouldn’t be getting anyway.

    • Yaaa right. Typical response. SDOT has probably made the process so onerous that no one of any reasonable quality is interested.

    • I’m sure they know what they are doing–it’s increasingly likely that the CHH master bid will win the process, which would be a great outcome for the neighborhood, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Particularly with a selection process that involves a significant amount of pre-design work–firms choosing not to participate as the process goes on isn’t unusual.

    • Actually, in almost any process with more than a couple of bidders, some of them drop out over time for various reasons as requirements get refined, financing fails to get lined up, or the bidders think they have a better ROI putting their attention somewhere else.

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