HALA Capitol Hill: The dense want it denser — the not so dense, not so much

While the young urbanists of Capitol Hill might be disappointed the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda zoning change proposals for Broadway probably won’t create three-hundred-foot apartment towers, Seattle officials are ready to face opposition in other parts of the neighborhood where even relatively modest height boosts are planned,

Generally speaking, Jesseca Brand with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods said, residents in already dense areas, especially on Capitol Hill and First Hill are more accepting and see the proposed changes being pounded out through 2017 as a good thing. Areas on Eastern Capitol Hill, to the south, and in the Central District where single-family streets are more common are more apprehensive and are concerned about “cultural and economic displacement.”

“Our hope is that the community feels they can shape this program neighborhood by neighborhood,” Brand said at last week’s HALA open house organized by city planners in a more fun than you would expect for this kind of session venue — Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing. Sometimes a drink is required when discussing the future of Seattle’s central neighborhoods. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Renters Initiative starts 2017 with call for tenant leaders

759960-250Wednesday night on Capitol Hill includes two different tenant rights meetings. Maybe 2017 really is the year of the renter.

To start the new year, CHS told you about a new series of free bootcamps to hep educate tenants across Seattle. The first Be:Seattle Tenant Rights Bootcamp is Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at Summit Ave’s Top Pot.

Wednesday also brings the monthly gathering of a longer-term effort to help politically — and tactically — organize tenants on Capitol Hill. Alex Brennan of Capitol Hill Housing’s EcoDistrict effort tells CHS the nonprofit is looking forward to the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative growing more and more independent in 2017 starting with its first meeting of the new year from 6 to 7 PM at 12th Ave Arts.

“The big thing is we’re moving towards renters taking on more leadership and more responsibility from Capitol Hill Housing staff,” Brennan said. Continue reading

Affordable housing, tenant rights advocate running for council on Seattle Democracy Vouchers

Jon Grant ran for the seat in 2015, and this year he’s going for the same City Council Position 8 with a platform focused on affordable housing and tenant rights — and being one of the first publicly financed candidates ever in Seattle.

Grant, former director of the Tenants Union, announced his bid back in November with a challenge to supporters to raise 400 $10 donations in the city’s new Democracy Voucher program. He exceeded that by getting 560 vouchers averaging $16 to fund his campaign.

“We had a tremendous response,” Grant said. Grant has already received more donations for this campaign than his entire 10-month campaign in 2015.

Here’s how the voucher program works. Earlier this month, registered voters began getting four $25 in vouchers in the mail. Seattle residents who are at least 18 years old and are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident can apply online for vouchers. Each voucher has the election year, resident’s name, a voucher identification number, and may have a voter ID number and barcode to help with signature verification. All contributions are public information. Continue reading

Design review: Long paths for Midtown Center’s mixed-use grocery future, Hill dive bar-turned microhousing

Blueprint Howell

Blueprint Howell

Long-anticipated development is the shared theme Wednesday night as the East Design Review Board takes its first look at two projects neighbors have been expecting for years — one will replace the home of a classic Capitol Hill dive bar, the other could redefine the heart of the Central District.

600 E Howell
You know it best as the Redwood. After more than 10 years on E Howell, the much-loved, and long-doomed dive bar is set to be replaced by a seven-story, mixed-use building that will create 73 “Small Efficiency Dwelling Units,” and four studio apartments atop 1,500 square feet of commercial space. Continue reading

Beer and upzoning: Brewery venue for Capitol Hill HALA Open House

City officials want your feedback on the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and planned zoning changes  and they’re prepared to use snacks to get it.

Next Tuesday, January 10th, representatives from city departments will be on hand at Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing for a Central Seattle HALA Open House:

HALA Central Neighborhoods Community Meeting

HALA has produced proposals for upzoning areas across Seattle and Capitol Hill changes that would allow taller buildings in the neighborhoods around Capitol Hill Station and concentrate seven-story office towers just off Broadway. HALA changes in the Central District were set up to be even meatier.

Though there will NOT be free beer (“Beer is available for purchase but will not be provided by the City”), the invite sounds like a good time for you involved types who, ya know, care about the future of the city, and stuff:

We’ll be highlighting maps that show draft neighborhood affordable housing proposals (read more about those here). In addition, there will be opportunities to learn about transportation projects in your neighborhood, hear what’s going on at the Office of Sustainability and Environment, and give feedback on upcoming Parks investments.

The January 10th all-ages session with “casual conversation around proposed changes to your neighborhood” will be part of an ongoing process to shape and finalize the proposals over the year.

Starting on Capitol Hill, tenant rights bootcamps will boost renter knowledge, neighborhood by neighborhood

Seattle Still Life:  Capitol Hill Mid-Century Modern Apartments and the Space Needle

When it comes to what CHS readers thought were the most important Capitol Hill stories of 2016, Capitol Hill Station was an easy runaway winner. But it could be argued that a split vote over Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative should qualify for a close second. 2017 will bring a new opportunity for Capitol Hill renters to keep pushing Seattle forward on a path to creating a more affordable city.

“Number one is to know and assert their rights,” organizer Devin Silvernail tells CHS about priorities for Seattle tenants in the new year and upcoming “bootcamps” to help educate renters on Capitol Hill and across the city. “I’d say a close second is advocating for things that can help them and their neighbors.” Continue reading

$15 now — As workers at Seattle’s biggest chains hit milestone wage, Hill’s small biz owners make 2017 adjustments

The new year means another wage hike for Seattle workers and some workers have finally hit the $15 goal of the phased-in plan. For 2017, employees of businesses with more than 500 workers who don’t pay toward medical benefits now must earn at least $15 per hour, a $2 raise from 2016. While most Capitol Hill small business owners don’t have to worry yet about a Starbucks-level minimum wage, they’re still navigating yet another year of raises in the city’s multi-year phase-in process.

“Our fear is pricing people out of the neighborhood,” Meinert said. “… We don’t want to keep raising prices, but we have to.”

While other large employers who put dollars toward their workers’ medical benefits will be paying $13.50 per hour, a $1 increase from 2016, workers at small businesses — those with 500 or fewer employees — are now guaranteed $13 per hour, up $1 from 2016. Employers will either hit that by paying $13 per hour or by paying $11 hourly and either at least $2 per hour toward medical benefits or ensuring their employees get at least $2 hourly in tips.

That tip credit toward the $15 wage is scheduled to end by 2025. A small number of Seattle restaurants have already moved away from tips to service charges in part because of the rising minimum wage.

Some restaurant owners such as David Meinert, who is part of the ownership at a large family of businesses including Lost Lake Cafe, Comet Tavern, Grim’s and Big Mario’s, have regrets about how Seattle’s wage hike is being phased in. Continue reading

CHS Year in Review 2016 | Plans to build our way out of it, the year in Capitol Hill development

There it is. Just as 2016 staggers to a close, market analysts — with a heavy stake in the outcome — say, looky, Seattle rents may have finally reached a “turning point” after years of mostly unabated increase. Will 2017 be the year Capitol Hill rents finally break? If so, 2016 will be marked as the final thrust of the old way of Seattle boom development as the new HALA-throttled marketplace is finally whipped into shape. For the pessimists — or, perhaps, optimistic landlords — if rents haven’t really turned that climb upside down and Seattle’s affordability crisis continues, then, well, 2016 will represent more of the same even as our intentions grew. Here is a look at how the year in development played out on Capitol Hill.

YIR 2016
+ CHS Year in Review 2016 | Capitol Hill’s most important stories
The year in Capitol Hill pictures
Plans to build our way out of it, the year in Capitol Hill development
Pizza, no palaces, and the real world — the year in food+drink

CHS YIR 2015 — Our first look at the new Capitol Hill
CHS YIR 2014 — More than supply and demand
CHS YIR 2013 — Capitol Hill development and the quest for affordability
CHS YIR 2012 — The re-development of Capitol Hill

Bellwether's Cambridge building got a $10M upgrade

Bellwether’s Cambridge building got a $10M upgrade

AFFORDABILITY
Years of concern about the cost of living in the densest neighborhood in one of the densest cities in the nation continued in 2016. Along the way, it seemed like those concerns were growing — not shrinking away. But there were real actions in 2016 to address Seattle’s — and Capitol Hill’s — “affordability crisis.” More projects were completed with at least a component of affordable units and nonprofits like Bellwether, which now operates six affordable buildings across Capitol Hill, further emerged to help lead.


Continue reading

On site of future Broadway affordable housing, mayor announces $47M in levy investments

121516-affordable-housing-press-conference-1-ko

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray speaks at a press conference announcing $47 million for affordable housing projects.

City officials announced $47 million will be awarded to affordable housing projects on Thursday at Capitol Hill Station’s future “transit-oriented development,” which will include 110 affordable apartments.

Rising rents are driving neighbors out of the city or onto the streets, said Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing.

“Every city in the west has an affordability crisis, but in Seattle, we are leading the way on the west coast in addressing that affordability crisis,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at the announcement to media on the empty, paved lots where Capitol Hill Station’s developments will eventually rise.

The Site-B North parcel will eventually be home to Capitol Hill Housing’s 110-unit, “permanently affordable” development. CHH is lined up to receive $8.7 million of the grants announced Thursday and has requested an additional $4 million from King County’s transit oriented development fund.

Continue reading

First look at Capitol Hill Station development designs — Seven stories, 427 units, and a new Broadway plaza

Here are the first official public design proposals for the four seven-story buildings including a combined 427 market-rate and affordable apartment units and more than 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space slated to rise surrounding Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station.

The proposal represents a decade of planning and public process that is set to further reshape Capitol Hill’s Broadway core and make new housing for hundreds while adding a new community plaza adjacent Cal Anderson Park. The full review proposal is at the bottom of this post.

As the project is lined up for its first design review next week, master developer Gerding Edlen will meet with residents, and business and community group representatives who will neighbor the massive — and massively important — development in an open house Tuesday night:

Capitol Hill Station development open house

The open house is designed as drop-in event with opportunities to speak with Gerding Edlen representatives — and practice your feedback on the project’s planned 668 334 parking stalls. The 1.5 0.78 stall to unit ratio is just a little higher than pretty much in line with recent trends across the city. UPDATE: Sorry for the error!

Continue reading

Would a Vancouver-style tax on empty houses help Seattle?

Anyone hoping to flee a Trump administration by moving to Vancouver should be prepared for some sticker shock. As expensive as housing is in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C. is the most expensive market in North America.

Much like City Hall here, Vancouver has been searching for policies to try and moderate the increases, and in November, the city council there implemented its latest attempt, a tax on vacant homes.

Vancouver will impose a 1% tax on vacant properties based on the value of the home. There are some exceptions for people who might be traveling, having medical problems, or at least trying to rent or sell their home. Properties are vacant if there’s no one living there for at least half of the year. Renting it out will allow the owner to avoid the tax, but the rentals must be for at least 30 days at a time basically precluding Airbnb-style weekend rentals.

Would the plan work in Seattle? Continue reading

What the Liberty Bank Building will look like

Black ownership, Black identity, Black residents — there is a lot hinging on the design plans for the six-story, mixed use Liberty Bank Building. The project, part of a wave of new development around 23rd and Union, takes what could be its final step in the design review process this week.

Last week, community members heard about the proposed design and progress on the project to fill the lot that used to be home to the Liberty Bank, the West Coast’s first black-owned bank.

Nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing is hoping the community support that has helped shaped the project thus far will be on display at Wednesday night’s design review session.

“We would be very grateful for that because your voice matters,” CHH’s Walter Zisette told community members last week before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Design review: 2320 E Union St

The building is designed to have 115 studio, one-bedroom and two bedroom apartments and four commercial spaces. Apartments will be available at 30 to 60% of the area median income, ranging in price from $434 to $1,154. Continue reading