As controversy swirls around its plans for an anchor tenant in the project, a representative for Gerding Edlen said the developer is “really close” to finalizing its big deal with Sound Transit to create 100,000 square feet of housing, commercial, and community projects on the now-empty land surrounding Capitol Hill Station.
“We’re working really closely with Sound Transit to a deal structure that works for us and them,” Gerding Edlen partner Jill Sherman tells CHS.
“It’s been extremely productive.”
The light rail station and the 3.1-mile U-Link subway line between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway is slated to open March 19th. But the “transit oriented development” around the project likely won’t begin construction until late 2017.
More good news for the process to shape the development came for the Capitol Hill Champion community group this week with word it has received a $10,000 grant from the city to boost its “outreach and advocacy for community priorities” on the massive development.
Group representative Mel Burchett tells CHS the Champion plans to use the funding to learn more about the needs of specific groups around the Hill:
Specifically, we want to hold smaller meetings/charettes with focus groups in coordination with the development team for the sites. We don’t know yet what priorities our groups will focus on, or specifically who these groups will be. We plan to review our outreach to-date and target groups that we feel have been underrepresented at our larger meetings (such as parents with small children, students, seniors, etc)
Earlier this month, CHS wrote about the growing need for senior housing on Capitol Hill but Champion representatives said it is too early to say what the focus will be for the group’s work to shape the coming projects.
“We are just beginning to develop our strategy, and plan to re-survey the community soon,” Burchett said.
A five-year fight to shape the bidding process for the developments with community priorities including affordable housing and a market plaza culminated in last year’s selection of Gerding Edlen as the “master developer” for four project areas around the future light rail station. Because of the community guidelines, developers were allowed to plan for 85-foot tall buildings along Broadway in exchange for going above the minimum affordable housing requirements.
According to Gerding Edlen, the company will purchase the property planned for affordable housing property from Sound Transit and sign leases for three other parcels. Sound Transit said the land was worth around $25 million and that Gerding Edlen was aiming for a 75-year deal to lease the properties.Gerding Edlen selected Capitol Hill Housing to develop, own, and operate the seven story, 86-unit Site B-North building. Half of the building’s units will be restricted to households making no more than 30% of the area median income. The other half will be made affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI. Initial plans call for a community center and a day care, as well as a rooftop deck and computer lab.
Though the developer is close to finalizing its term sheet with Sound Transit, there’s a long process ahead before any construction begins, putting the development further behind recent goals to begin construction this summer. Gerding Edlen is planning an 18-month window starting in March once it has its deal with Sound Transit locked down. Because of the federal grants involved in the project, the Federal Transit Administration must approve the deal. Then Gerding Edlen will begin the process of taking its projects through design and environmental review. As part of the community guidelines agreement, the developer will also benefit from a somewhat streamlined design review process.
Part of the development includes a retail “bazaar” at Site A-North called The Market Hall and envisioned as “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.
Gerding partner Sherman says that no final decisions have been made about commercial tenants in the projects. She confirmed her firm is talking with grocer New Seasons, the subject of a protest letter sent to Sound Transit officials from labor groups concerned about the company’s business practices. Any announcements about anchor tenants won’t come until after design starts later this year.
In the meantime, Sherman says the Portland-based developer is meeting regularly with the Capitol Hill Champion group.