What has bubbled to the top of ’30 ideas’ for saving — and developing — Seattle studios, galleries, and music venues

Not everything is about preservation. The new Hugo House is set to open soon on 11th Ave.

As Seattle once again wrestles with the fragility of its arts spaces in the face of continued growth, change, and development, the Seattle City Council this week heard an update on City Hall’s efforts to preserve and grow the number of studios, galleries, and performance venues on Capitol Hill and across the city.

Tuesday, the Seattle Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee convened to discuss the cultural space access and stabilization project currently being undertaken by the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS).

ARTS has been working for the past eight months to implement concepts proposed in The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation and Preservation of Cultural Space (PDF), which was published by ARTS last year. ARTS is assessing the feasibility of the project and working on a racial equity toolkit to ensure the communities of color that will be impacted have their voices heard.

Council member Lisa Herbold, chair of the committee, expressed her support for the project and its research.

“Our ability to preserve cultural spaces is really important,” Herbold said. “It goes beyond one particular threatened cultural space and we really need to figure out what the tools are that we have available.” Continue reading

Rental study finds challenging times for Seattle renters *and* landlords — and confirms what you probably already assumed about Capitol Hill’s new, larger buildings: They charge more

(Image: Excelsior Apartments)

Outcomes of a new effort at City Hall to study rental housing trends show challenges for both tenants and landlords — and that larger developments are asking for higher rents than smaller buildings.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington surveyed both landlords and renters in the Seattle area to learn about the state of the rental market and the effectiveness of recent ordinances enacted by the City Council.

While the Seattle Rental Housing Study did not deal with broader trends, such as overall rent prices, it did deal with the attitudes of those involved in the rental market. The research was required by two city ordinances passed in 2016 and included in the 2017 budget. Ordinance 125114 prohibits unfair practices for screening and choosing tenants and Ordinance 125222 limits security deposits and non-refundable move-in fees.

Despite their goal of aiding renters, the team’s focus groups had no familiarity with the new ordinances and were skeptical about their effectiveness.

“All of the renters that we spoke to in all of the focus groups, they expressed a high level of barriers to housing access,” research lead Kyle Crowder said at a July 24th meeting of the Seattle City Council’s renters rights committee about recent movers his team surveyed,

The barriers renters are referring to are more numerous than just the lack of affordability in Seattle, but that was one of the most frequently cited issues.

“The renters that we spoke to in our focus groups feel squeezed financially by the housing market,” Crowder, a professor of sociology at the UW, said at the meeting. “That was a common theme.”

Other problems mentioned by renters were a “lack of transparency in application/leasing process” and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or source of income, especially for voucher recipients, according to the study. Continue reading

The Eldridge, preservation plus seven stories on Broadway — and in ‘the sweet spot’ of affordability

(Image: Mithun)

Local community members got the first look at plans for The Eldridge, a preservation-friendly seven-story affordable housing development on the property of the auto row-era Eldridge Tire building, located on the 1500 block of Broadway between Pike and Pine, earlier this month at a meeting of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council.

Walter Zisette, the associate director of real estate development at Capitol Hill Housing, one of the developers of the project, said that the level of planned affordable housing is in “the sweet spot” compared to other developments in the neighborhood. Continue reading

For first time in forever, developer planning a new Capitol Hill condo building

The Capitol Hill condo project will be a twin to this development already underway in Eastlake (Image: Build Urban)

They’re far from frozen but industry analysts claim Seattle’s rents have finally cooled. Want further proof? A Seattle developer has announced plans to pass over the lucrative rental market and take on all the risk — and, hopefully, all of the reward — of building a condominium building on Capitol Hill.

A planned six-story condominium development at 127 Bellevue E will be made up of 44 small, relatively inexpensive units you can buy, not rent.

“The plan is to provide affordable, walkable, sustainable housing in a city that has a shortage of inventory in core locations,” Ed Gallaudet, president of developer Build Urban, said. Continue reading

Africatown gets $1M+ boost from Seattle’s first Equitable Development grants

Africatown has been awarded a major grant as part of more than $5 million in funding for equitable development in Seattle.

“Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the grants. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity within Seattle’s most underserved communities.”

Africatown will receive $1,075,000 for “capacity-building” and “development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project,” according to the City of Seattle announcement of the award. Continue reading

If you hear somebody talking ‘Comp Plan’ in your favorite Capitol Hill cafe, it’s probably Housing Now shaping plan to take on Seattle’s restrictive zoning

Housing Now is a small group on a big mission

While the repealed Employee Hours Tax was not a Housing Now campaign, the Seattle group has learned from mistakes that were made. With new understanding of how things get done — or don’t — in Seattle, the group has vowed to take on the city’s restrictive zoning laws.

“The Comprehensive Plan stems from the Growth Management Act at the state level which requires every city and county to designate growth areas.” Housing Now’s Alex Broner said in a Sunday afternoon meeting earlier this month on 12th Ave across from Seattle University. “They took our already exclusive zoning system in 1994 and codified it into the City Comprehensive Plan.” Continue reading

Here’s how to keep track of two years of construction coming around Capitol Hill Station

Capitol Hill Housing’s Station House is slated to open in 2019

The ribbon has been cut on the project to surround Capitol Hill Station with housing, retail, and community development. Come 2020, commercial activity will return to the block for the first time since 2006 and a whole bunch of new Capitol Hill neighbors will call this stretch of Broadway home. But, first, current neighbors need to deal with two years of construction and the rise of two new tower cranes in the heart of Broadway. Here’s how to keep up to date.

This Capitol Hill Station Project Page from the development’s lead contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will be used to keep the neighborhood alerted to coming construction, the latest milestones, and when big new elements of the construction process will be moving into place, a project representative tells CHS.

The first update for July deals with a key element of the earliest stages of the project — digging up a lot of dirt: Continue reading

Seattle housing notes: Last chance to comment on plan for more backyard cottages, MHA upzoning battle begins

While we are looking at Seattle’s built environment this morning, here are a few other items of note going on in the city:

  • Backyard cottages milestone: Today — 6/25/18 — is the final day to comment on Seattle’s plan to allow more backyard cottages in neighborhoods across the city. As CHS has reported, “accessory dwelling units” are an effective way to put more of Seattle’s buildable land to use creating homes new neighbors. The city has studied three options:
    + Alternative 1: no action; current rules maintained.
    + Alternative 2: one in-law apartment and one backyard cottage allowed on the same lot; parking no longer required for ADUs; the homeowner may live elsewhere.
    + Alternative 3: two ADUs allowed per lot (either two in-law apartments or one apartment and one cottage); an additional parking space is required only if two ADUs are built. Continue reading

What’s next for Seattle’s head tax? Sawant pivoting on ‘Tax Amazon Movement’ after repeal

Even as they voted to repeal it, Seattle City Council members said Tuesday that an employee hours tax is probably the city’s best route forward to creating an alternative, non-regressive revenue stream to combat Seattle’s affordability crisis. The moves begin, now, to come up with a new, stronger tax plan.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, who has claimed the “Tax Amazon movement” as a follow-up to the successful $15 minimum wage fight, will be first out of the gates for shaping what comes next, saying Tuesday in council chambers that a “Tax Amazon Movement: Campaign Launch & Organizing Conference” is still happening. Continue reading

Good news, Amazon, Seattle won’t be taxing you after all — UPDATE: Repealed


UPDATE 2:10 PM: In a vote interrupted by a chanting crowd and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s refusal to voice her yay or nay despite threats from President Bruce Harrell that he would close council chambers if outbursts continued, the Seattle City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday to repeal the city’s yet-to-be-implemented, unanimously-passed head tax on Seattle’s largest businesses.

As she seemingly goaded on her supporters in the council chambers, Sawant paused and let the chants swell before finally casting her vote against the repeal. Continue reading