For the first time since they were selected to develop the housing and retail sites that will one day surround the Capitol Hill light rail station, developers Gerding Edlen met with the Capitol Hill community Saturday to show off its early designs for the project.
The Portland-based developer set up posters inside E Pine’s Century Ballroom for a public viewing of the company’s winning proposal, which Sound Transit selected and made available last month. The event was co-hosted by Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Champion, a neighborhood group that’s worked for years to insert community priorities into the “transit orientated development” project.
Members from the Gerding team and architects from Schemata Workshop were on hand to answer questions and take public feedback during the three hour open house. The event was a kickoff of sorts to a new round of community engagement on the project as Sound Transit spent much of the past six months scoring proposals from four teams.
A dog swimming pool, music practice spaces, a newsstand, and more vibrant color palettes were just a few of the colorful suggestions attendees offered after viewing the designs Saturday.
Gerding’s plans call for 418 apartments with 38% of units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and 86 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A third of the units will have at least two bedrooms.
Gerding estimates the project will cost $124 million for three sites, not including the affordable housing property at Site B-North.
Once the final lease is approved by the Federal Transit Administration, the developer team will still need to work through the city’s permitting and design view process, which is expected to last well into next year. According to the 262-page bid document, construction for Site A is slated to start around summer 2016 and last through August 2017. Gerding expects the entire project will be open sometime in 2018.
According to Gerding’s Sarah Zahn, the company will purchase the affordable housing property from Sound Transit and sign leases for the three others. Contract negotiations for the properties, which are estimated to be worth around $25 million, are expected to last at least through this summer. No new design schematics are expected to come out in the interim, Schemata architect John Feit told CHS.
In the coming months, Gerding will have to select a nonprofit housing partner to develop and manage the project’s affordable housing site. Meanwhile, Zahn told CHS that the company is continuing talks with a Portland-based grocer that will likely become the project’s anchor retail tenant.
Plans for a retail “bazaar” at Site A-North, called The Market Hall, envision “a mix of local retailers, served by booths of varying sizes to accommodate the start-up entrepreneur as well as more established specialty retailers.” Gerding says it plans to work closely with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to select a retail broker and future tenants.
How to power the development will be one of the many design decisions that get sorted out over the next year. One idea is to use so-called “district energy” by piping in steam from a Enwave Seattle facility that supplies heating to Seattle Central College. CHS wrote here about the steam system — formerly known as Seattle Steam Company — still active below the streets of the city.
Attendees of Saturday’s open house perused the design plans while sampling goodies from the Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Association, Ripe Catering/Pel’Meni Dumpling Tzar, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, and Joe Bar.
Meanwhile, 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 will add around 400 apartments to the site.