In 2014, CHS wondered whether Capitol Hill’s affordable housing might not be built on Capitol Hill but in the neighborhoods to the south along 12th Ave. Today, a trio of Capitol Hill-adjacent affordable housing developments from Spectrum Development Solutions has been completed.
Reverb Apartments, the final of three developments in the 12th and Alder area of the Central District, threw an open house party on Thursday featuring music and a community event to show off the newly opened building.
“It’s been a long journey, and we’re really excited to be a part of the community and to play hopefully an important role in bringing workforce housing to this area. It’s much needed,” Spectrum’s Jake McKinstry told CHS.
Across the three buildings, 56 units qualify as affordable with the other projects priced as “workforce” housing designed to appeal to young, working professionals willing to sacrifice space and perks like parking in exchange for proximity to employment centers and public transit. Spectrum is focusing on “the missing middle” — teachers, nurses and other young professionals, who are trying to live near their jobs and don’t qualify for affordable housing, McKinstry said.
Construction on the 85-unit Reverb development wrapped up in September. Seventeen of the units qualify as affordable housing for people earning 65% to 85% of area median income (AMI) of $61,800.
Studios start at $1,000 and go up to $1,450. One bedrooms run from $1,300 up to $1,800. Two bedrooms start around $1,700 and go up to $2,500. Reverb also has four townhomes that start around $3,000 per month
The Multifamily Tax Exemption bonus program provides a property tax break to developers for 12 years if they set aside at least 20% of their units for affordable housing. Across the three planned Spectrum buildings, the developer has made 25% of its units available to tenants who make less than the area median income of $61,800 for one person. An Anthem tenant will pay $868 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Spectrum will also, of course, enjoy a healthy tax break.
Reverb features a rooftop club, dog run, fire pit and barbecue grills. McKinstry said it has more of a “chill residential vibe” with a library near the entrance.
About 30% of the units in the $25 million development have been leased. McKinstry said by the end of the first quarter of 2017, Spectrum would like to see the majority of apartments leased.
“We try to really mix in a spectrum of affordability within the project,” he said.
In June, construction on the 75-unit Decibel Apartments building wrapped up. It also offers 20% of its units as affordable housing using. It features many of the same amenities as well, but also has commercial space. McKinstry described Decibel, a $24 million development, as the “edgiest” design in the trio.
Decibel units went quickly, hitting 96% occupancy in six weeks.
Anthem on 12th, a $28 million project, was completed in May 2015 and offers 36 of its 120 units as affordable housing. The remaining units are available to workers earning up to 120% of AMI. When construction was completed, 40% of its units were pre-leased, and it was 90% full six months after opening. Anthem’s commercial space, however, is still available.
All three buildings are transit-oriented, Reverb has 13 parking spaces for its 85 units, but is located close to bus lines and the streetcar. Each unit also has wall mount space for bikes and there’re communal bike racks as well.
So far in the other developments, the low number of parking spaces hasn’t been an issue and the bike racks are well-utilized.
The surrounding community has also been supportive of the multi-story projects. While Spectrum was working through the permitting process for Reverb, the city considered the idea of putting a park in the lot instead but the community lead by the 12th Ave Stewards group supported the development.
“I think as we see in politics and as we’re seeing in real estate, unfortunately, we’re moving to the extremes — the haves and the have-nots,” McKinstry said. “… We have situations where it’s only deeply affordable housing or it’s very high-end, super expensive, market-rate housing, so there’s a huge area of bandwidth in the middle that we need to be serving.”