Analysts say all the construction may be making a mess of Capitol Hill streets but it might, indeed, be making a small dent — or at least slowing down — the juggernaut that is rent across the area’s neighborhoods.
Overall, rents across Capitol Hill and Eastlake are up 3.9% compared to spring 2016, according to Mike Scott of industry analysts Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors. The firm’s seasonal reports based on interviews and tracking continue to be one of the city’s most watched indicators through an ongoing affordability crisis — and a boom for landlords and City Hall’s coffers thanks to an around 75% leap in taxable activity in Seattle’s construction sector since 2010.
While the continued rise in rents is further hardship for tenants — up some 48% compared to 2012 and a whopping 88% since 2007 — the rise has moderated.
Last spring, this area of Central Seattle turned in a near-8% jump whether counting all units including new buildings or just existing. Across the city and county, Seattle Times looked at the numbers and asked, “After brief slowdown, Seattle-area rents surge back up again; when will it end?”
Scott says more recent trends show a slowing with rents across the Hill staying steady since last fall.
Urbanists, developers, and more than a few city officials hope that Seattle can continue to build its way out of its affordability crisis as the area around the city continues to gain around 1,100 new residents… a week. Last year, Scott put numbers to the boom documenting some 26,000 new market-rate apartments set to open from 2016 to 2018 in Seattle.
On Capitol Hill, the area gained only three new buildings in the survey compared to last spring. But good news — at least in the raw unit end of things — Capitol Hill and Eastlake’s new buildings continue to squeeze in more and more units. Buildings in the survey currently average 47 units per building. In 2007, that number was 34.
A new wave is coming, this time centered around Broadway where more than 400 units will open in late 2019 around Capitol Hill Station. Capitol Hill Station’s “transit oriented development” plans call for 444 apartments with 38% of units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and Site-B North’s 110 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A quarter of the units will have at least two bedrooms.
And the city’s HALA process should, eventually, also boost the totals with a blanket upzone allowing that unit/building metric to continue its rise while also opening up areas around southern Capitol Hill and Madison and the Central District to larger multifamily development projects.
While its purpose goes well beyond lowering rents, the newly approved Seattle Renters’ Commission should also help to give tenants further relief. Mayor Ed Murray is set to sign the new legislation to form the commission Friday morning at City Hall. And a initiative could be on the ballot to give the city even more data to look at about tenants, rents, and affordability.
Thanks to Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors for sharing their reporting and insights with CHS.