First look at new plan for redevelopment of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center

Monday’s MLK Day 2018 marchers will pass by the site of the next major change for the neighborhood around 23rd and Union. Here are the first designs for the new mixed market-rate and “inclusive development” project planned for the Midtown Center block.

The newly released plans from architects Weinstein A+U and the Berger Partnership include room for somewhere around 429 units in 273,000 square-feet of residential space, new restaurant and commercial space surrounding a large “public plaza,” and room for nearly 300 vehicles to park below ground. Continue reading

Why Roy Street Commons, a short-term rental exception, stands alone on Capitol Hill

When the Seattle City Council passed a set of regulations designed to boost affordability by reeling in short-term rentals, one Capitol Hill property owner got very lucky.

The regulations passed in December generally restricted the number of housing units a person can operate as a short-term rental to a unit in their own home, plus one more unit. There were a couple exceptions which allowed for grandfathering operators of properties to continue doing so, with some restrictions which vary by where in the city the units are. The rules will go into effect January 1st, 2019.

But there was one more exception.

A very carefully worded exemption which seems to apply only to a single building in Seattle — the Roy Street Commons at 621 12th Ave E. Continue reading

Seattle’s ‘Neighborhood Parking Reform’ — reduced requirements, ‘unbundling’ of costs, shared parking

Proposed Areas With Parking Flexibility Map (Image: City of Seattle)

Legislation hoped to help reduce housing costs in Seattle by allowing so-called “shared parking,” giving developers fewer reasons to create large parking structures, and opening more buildings to offer parking on the open market will be taken up by the Seattle City Council’s planning and land use committee starting Wednesday morning.

CHS wrote about the legislation from the office of then-Mayor Tim Burgess in November and its potential for helping renters. Parking costs “make up 10-20% of typical construction projects,” according to the city.

The legislation package — hopefully titled Neighborhood Parking Reform — would require the “unbundling of parking space rental from multi-family dwelling unit rental and lease agreements in new and existing structures 10 dwelling units or greater in size, and new commercial lease agreements in new and existing structures 10,000 square feet or greater in size.” Continue reading

Shaping Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable LGBTQ-focused senior housing project

Capitol Hill Housing hosted its first public discussion Tuesday night with the community it will house in preparation for shaping what it hopes will be the nation’s first LGBTQIA+-focused affordable senior housing at 14th and Union. It just might take a little longer to come up with the money to pay for it.

Walter Zisette, associate director for real estate at Capitol Hill Housing, told the crowd the first of its kind senior housing development was not among the projects selected this year by the city’s Office of Housing for some $100 million in affordable housing investments.

“That’s not stopping us at all,” Zisette said. “ It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Zisette estimated CHH will need another year to find more financing to cover the project’s $24 million budget. He still felt the new project would be ready for occupants in 2020.

Despite the disappointing news, attendees presented plenty of ideas. The most frequent request was that CHH consider intergenerational opportunities for its occupants as the project comes together.

“It’s important not to be cut off from other people,” said Ty Nolan, an LGBTQIA+ elder and attendee. “And it’d be nice to have something like a head start or daycare where people can volunteer as grandparents.”

78-year-old Brandy Sedron-Kelley said allowing LGBTQIA+ seniors to connect with the next generation can prevent a lot of hate and misconception. Continue reading

Belmont Ave low-income and re-entry project part of $100M in Seattle affordable housing grants

(Image: Pioneer Human Services)

A Belmont Ave project to create a seven-story building with 90 units for a mix of the lowest income tenants and housing for formerly incarcerated and homeless residents will be part of more than $101 million in City Hall funding announced Monday for affordable housing across Seattle.

“Too many long-time residents are getting locked out and pushed out of Seattle. We need to urgently increase the amount of affordable housing to stop the huge displacement of people and provide permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said of the 2017 slate of affordable investments from the Office of Housing. “With this investment, our city is delivering on our commitment to create more affordable housing, including building 900 new homes and keeping 550 homes affordable for the next 50 years.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing project at 14th and Union will create affordable LGBTQ-focused senior housing

True affordability means keeping rents in the city down for everybody. An effort to help Capitol Hill Housing shape “Seattle’s first LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing development” at 14th and Union will take another step forward next week with a Community Visioning Workshop:

LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing: Community Visioning Workshop

“We’ve heard consistently from the community about the need for a place where LGBTQ elders in the community could age,” said Ashwin Warrior, Capitol Hill Housing spokesperson. “LGBTQ seniors were also named a priority population for the 2016 Housing Levy which adds extra impetus to the efforts.” Continue reading

To push back on short-term rental boom, Seattle adds new Airbnb regulations

The Seattle City Council followed through Monday on a second piece of legislation to further regulate the short term rental market in the city and raise new funding from the industry.

Council members approved a package of rules that will limit owners to only two units at a time on services like Airbnb. The new rules will also require the platform companies including Airbnb and Expedia to pay for a permit to operate in Seattle. The approved legislation calls on the city to study how much the platform companies should be charged to help pay for regulation and enforcement of the industry. Continue reading

Seattle tenant rights rally, pop-up renters clinic to greet landlord trade show

Tenant rights, labor, and housing advocate groups are planning a day of protests and education to counterbalance the presence of landlords from around the state at an industry trade show at the convention center downtown Tuesday.

The Rally for Tenant Rights will start around 11 AM at Westlake Center. Organizers say State Representative Nicole Macri, and City Council members Kshama Sawant and Teresa Mosqueda are scheduled to attend: Continue reading

Capitol Hill mostly missing in Seattle coalition opposing affordability plan

“A coalition of local organizations” is, as the Seattle Times reported this weekend, making plans to use the state’s environmental review process to halt the proposed upzoning of 27 areas of Seattle under the Mandatory Housing Affordability plan. But you won’t find a group representing most of Capitol Hill in the mix.

“These​ ​upzones​ ​are​ ​not​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​accommodate​ ​the growth​ ​that’s​ ​planned,” the statement released Friday from the Seattle​ ​Coalition​ ​for​ ​Affordability,​ ​Livability​ ​and​ ​Equity reads.​ “​The​ ​city​ ​already​ ​has​ more​ ​than​ ​twice​ ​the​ ​capacity​ ​in​ ​multi-family zoning​ ​to​ ​accommodate​ ​all​ ​the​ ​growth​ ​that’s​ ​coming,​ ​so​ ​who’s​ ​driving​ ​this​ ​land-grab?”

Development-focused conspiracy theories aside, the group appears to have what it takes — lawyers, money, and time — to gum up the effort to increase building heights in core areas around the city’s transit systems and help drive down Seattle’s soaring rents. The group said its lawyers ​would file​ ​an appeal​ ​against​ ​the​ ​Final​ ​Environmental​ ​Impact​ ​Statement​ ​(FEIS)​ on the plan ​to​ ​the​ ​Seattle​ ​Hearing​ ​Examiner on Monday. Continue reading

Two big items on Sound Transit’s agenda for lots of affordable housing on Broadway, First Hill — UPDATE

UPDATE 3:35 PM: The Sound Transit board approved both motions Thursday afternoon paving the way for a “no cost” transfer of two First Hill properties to nonprofit developers Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing and, in the second vote, putting in place a memorandum of understanding between the transit agency, Seattle Central, and Capitol Hill Housing for a swap of Capitol Hill properties. Details on the plans are below.

In public comments, Bellwether’s CEO Susan Boyd called the joint proposal with Plymouth “a bold plan” that will create much needed affordable housing on First Hill.

Board member and Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson called the First Hill proposal “very consistent with what the community asked for” and said the neighborhood’s “YIMBY” spirit was reflected in the plan.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said affordable housing is now central to Sound Transit’s mission as it also works to provide transit to the region’s growing population. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, meanwhile, voted against the motion saying he was troubled by the “no cost” aspect of the plan as a “dangerous precedent.”

Additionally, the board also approved a motion on a plan for “Central Transit-Oriented Development” near the Roosevelt light rail station that will involve Bellwether and Mercy Housing Northwest.

Original report: Sound Transit’s board is scheduled to make two key decisions on property it owns across First Hill and Capitol Hill that will potentially open the way for big deals around affordable housing and and expanded Seattle Central.

The Sound Transit Board will vote Thursday whether to move forward with two land deals.

One motion paves the way negotiate with Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing in a purchase of Sound Transit land at 1014 Boylston Ave and 1400 Madison meant for high-rise affordable housing, up to 160 feet.

“We thought in viewing their proposal that their numbers were reasonable,” said Sarah Lovell from Sound Transit. “It is an expensive project. It’s expensive to build a high-rise. But stacking two housing project increases their ability to get subsidies. They’re trying to be really efficient with their design.” Continue reading