Capitol Hill Station development not tall or affordable enough for you? Sound Transit approves deals for more

The Sound Transit Board approved the nitty gritty business terms of two deals Thursday that will create hundreds of affordable housing units a short walk or a First Hill Streetcar ride away from its Capitol Hill Station light rail facility.

Terms approved Thursday in one deal are worthy of the most complicated baseball trade involving a four-way swap between Sound Transit, Seattle Central and the state community college system, and Capitol Hill Housing.

  • Sound Transit will convey Site D to the College Parties in exchange for the Atlas Site. Sound Transit will then convey the Atlas Site to CHH for a mixed-use, affordable housing development that meets the requirements of RCW 81.112.350.
  • CHH will develop no fewer than 70 apartments restricted to households whose annual income (adjusted for family size) does not exceed 60% of the area median income for King County.
  • CHH will pay the College Parties $2 million, which is the difference between the appraised fair market value of Site D ($6 million) and the appraised fair market value of the Atlas Site ($8 million). CHH will pay Sound Transit a minimum of $700,000 for the appraised fair market value of the proposed commercial/retail space to be developed at the Atlas Site.
  • CHH’s combined acquisition price of $2.7 million aims to facilitate the proposed land swap, set the land value within the competitive range for local affordable housing funding, and achieve fair market financial return to Sound Transit for the commercial component of the Atlas Site. Sound Transit is discounting the value of the land for the affordable housing component at the Atlas Site, as permitted by RCW 81.112.350.

The Eldridge is planned to rise on Broadway (Image: Mithun)

From Capitol Hill Housing’s perspective, the agreement gives it the property between Pike and Pine on Broadway home to a landmarked auto row-era retail building and a plan for a seven-story development in exchange for $2.7 million.

Seattle Central gives up the Broadway property and the landmarked building so it can move forward with developing Sound Transit’s Site D on the north end of its campus adjacent the western-side Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station. Officials have said the plan is likely to create a new instructional building dedicated to the school’s STEM and IT programs. The school has already demolished its North Plaza building in anticipation of the new project with plans to use the open area as a “green space” until development plans come together.

What does Sound Transit get? Nothing, really. But, in addition to saving the region from choked roadways, the agency has been charged with utilizing its surplus properties as “transit oriented development” opportunities. Those goals were updated further in 2015 as Sound Transit adopted “equitable development” goals for its properties.

Five sites surrounding Capitol Hill Station were acquired by Sound Transit for construction of the light rail facility — what’s left is to be transformed into dense “transit oriented development.” Four of those sites are being developed into housing, retail, and community space by Portland-based firm Gerding Edlen — including Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable Station House building. SCC can now turn the fifth into new classroom space while Sound Transit is flipping the college’s old Broadway property to be developed as affordable apartments and street level retail by Capitol Hill Housing.

Capitol Hill Housing’s affordability plans for The Eldridge development include 78 housing units — 24 studios, 36 one bedroom and one bathroom apartments, and 18 family units. Within the umbrella of the family housing spaces, twelve will have two bedrooms and one bathroom, and the other six will have three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms. All will be available at 60% Area Median Income or below. Unfortunately, the project won’t be completed anytime soon. Developers don’t expect to begin the project’s public design process until December.

First Hill, too
Those 78 new homes are set to join about 250 more on First Hill after the Sound Transit Board signed off on details of a second deal Thursday on a “no cost” transfer of two First Hill properties to nonprofit developers Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing.

The terms approved Thursday set the parameters for the two developers to create a new apartment tower on land at 1014 Boylston Ave and 1400 Madison meant for high-rise affordable housing up to 160 feet.

The properties were purchased in 2001 in anticipation of building a light rail station near Madison and Boylston. That plan was axed, the First Hill Streetcar was born, and Sound Transit leases 1400 Madison to a Moneytree payday loans store and 1014 Boylston as medical office space. The block is now poised for major change as a Whole Foods grocery store and 16-story apartment tower are under construction at Broadway and Madison.

Under the approved terms, the developers must “achieve a high-density of affordable housing serving a range of incomes”–

If more than 308 units of housing are constructed, 100 percent of the units must be at or below 80 percent of area median income (AMI) with a project-wide average AMI at or below 60 percent of AMI and at least 250 units serving those earning at or below 60 percent AMI including at least 80 units serving those earning at or below 30 percent of AMI. If fewer than 308 units of housing are constructed, 100 percent of the units must be at or below 60 percent of AMI and at least 80 units shall serve those earning at or below 30 percent of AMI.

The terms (PDF) also lay out requirements for 8% of the units to be two and three bedroom units, at least 4,000 square feet of street level retail, and a maximum of 20 parking stalls.


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4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Station development not tall or affordable enough for you? Sound Transit approves deals for more

  1. Hooray! This is excellent news.
    I live in a CHH newer apartment building that is 60% median income.
    For the curious, we will pay $1003.00 a month for a big 1 bedroom apartment in 2019. Our building has an elevator and underground parking at no extra charge.

  2. The broadway properties are still not tall enough. We had a once in a century opportunity to create high density TOD. 7 stories is not high density. When i lived in NYC, I lived 1.5 miles from the nearest subway in a 22 story building complex with almost 1500 units. we’re gonna put less than a 3rd of that right on top of light rail.