Plans for Africatown Plaza rise at 23rd and Union

Garrett, center, with Forterra’s Michelle Connor and Chris Persons of Capitol Hill Housing (Image: Africatown Plaza)

The newly formed Africatown Community Land Trust entered an agreement with Capitol Hill Housing and Lake Union Partners, the Seattle development company that bought the Midtown Center block in May. The announcement cements the project surrounding Lake Union’s $23.25 million deal to purchase the Central District shopping center land.

UPDATEWe have updated this information to correct an error regarding ownership of the site.

“We’re working to maintain fertile ground where a Black community that has been here for over 130 years can grow and thrive in place, K. Wyking Garrett, president of the land trust, said in an announcement of the agreements. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station development designs finalized

By the end of 2019, you might be living above Capitol Hill Station. The development projects to create four new buildings and a public plaza above the bustling transit terminal passed through the final step in design review Wednesday night.

Still, not everybody is satisfied.

One man stood up during public comment to say, “I think this project should’ve been built yesterday.” He then urged the board to reduce the number of parking spaces. “This is a transit-oriented development, right? Like, y’all, come on guys.”

The four building designs finalized Wednesday night will create more than 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space — and, yes, more than 200 new parking spaces below ground for residents and shoppers. Continue reading

Spring analysis shows Capitol Hill rent rise has… slowwwed… dowwwn…

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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. Continue reading

You might be able to move into your new Capitol Hill Station apartment in 2019

Earlier this month, Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Station celebrated one year of service carrying thousands of riders every day on the light rail line connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway. The two acres of so of pavement around the station, you might have noticed, remain empty but there are big plans. Here is what comes next after December’s first design review — and why the one-year celebration didn’t include a ribbon cutting from the project’s developer Gerding Edlen for the some 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space planned to rise around the station.

Destined to begin construction in 2018 and open for new residents late the following year, the architects behind the largest buildings and the key central plaza above Capitol Hill Station are refining plans following the project’s first step in the special streamlined design review process set up for the community-guided “transit oriented development.” As part of its application for the critical land use permit, Hewitt Architects submitted a roster of planned design changes based on feedback from the design review board for the project’s main Site A building along Broadway and the pedestrian plaza that will sit above the busy light rail station below and is hoped to create a central gathering place, a home for the Capitol Hill farmers market, and a new gateway for the adjacent Cal Anderson Park.

Here are some of the changes being planned for the next and final round of design review expected to take place this summer:

  • Parking: The developer’s rep told the crowd at the December design review that there was likely to be fewer parking spots than included in the design plan. True… kind of. The big lot is down to 158 spaces: Site A was previously showing 183 parking spaces on 3 below grade parking levels. This has been reduced to 158 spaces. 
  • Broadway pass-through: The plan for a passageway through the development to connect Broadway through to the internal plaza will be de-cluttered and the quasi-public space will hopefully be more inviting and provide small retailers with a more active environment: The pass-through for Site A has remained at 15’-0” minimum width and all bicycle racks have been removed. The residential lobby no longer lines the entire south side of the pass-through allowing for further activation of the retail spaces. Retail is now visible at both the west and east. Continue reading

Seattle City Council approves nation’s first Renters’ Commission

Council member Tim Burgess

Council member Tim Burgess

Applause followed the City Council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance creating a Seattle Renters’ Commission on Monday.

“This was truly a grassroots effort that started up on Capitol Hill and will now benefit the entire city of Seattle,” Council member and prime sponsor Tim Burgess said.

“We just want to give renters a formal voice here at City Hall,” he said. “… Renters need landlords and landlords need renters, so if this commission can help bridge that relationship then that will be a positive move for our city.” Continue reading

Protest against displacement at 23rd and Union targets landowner’s Madrona home, sparks scuffle at Uncle Ike’s

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

Protesters said they were targeting the home of the family member who heads the Midtown Center partnership as Madrona got an unusual influx of activists Saturday night

A protest against gentrification and displacement in the Central District that followed the eviction of a longtime neighborhood activist from his 24th and Spring home showed just how personal the tumult around change can be as the Madrona home of a 23rd and Union property owner was targeted — and the owner of a controversial marijuana store momentarily lost his cool Saturday night.

Protesters Saturday night gathered at 23rd and Union outside the office space where the Black business incubator Black Dot is being booted from the teed-up-for-redevelopment Midtown Center. The protest was a planned response after the eviction of Omari Tahir-Garret from the block earlier in the week. The rally and march eventually traveled all the way to Madrona where protesters said they were targeting the home of Hugh Bangasser, head of the family partnership that owns the Midtown Center and is planning to sell the property for redevelopment.

But the sparks flew late in the night after the march returned to 23rd and Union and organizer Cliff Cawthon brought the group to the parking lot of “gentrifier” Uncle Ike’s where the I-502 pot shop was once again surrounded by a mix of protesters, Seattle Police, and Ike’s security employees. Continue reading

Yes on I-127 effort underway to put Seattle rent transparency initiative on ballot

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Current rental cost datasets must be collected from sources like Craigslist while developers often have access to the most robust reporting based on property management analysis

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.25 PM On Monday, the City Council is expected to approve formation of the Seattle Renters’ Commission, thought to be the first commission of its kind representing tenant interests at a United States city hall. Another group is beginning its work in the rain this Friday afternoon to also create a better, more transparent, and more trackable future for Seattle renters.

Yes on I-127 have been given approval to begin collecting the some 16,000 20,638 or signatures they will need to get their initiative on the ballot calling for Seattle landlords to provide detailed breakdowns of rents and rent increases to tenants and share that information with the city. “By breaking down costs included in monthly rent, tenants can better understand cost of rents and rent increases associated with their homes,” the group contends. “They can also use this information to plan and prepare for the future.” Proponents say the initiative would give the city “an apparatus to track rent trends.” “This allows both the city and its residents to study and understand our rental market,” they write.

Devin Silvernail tells CHS the initiative is an outgrowth of volunteers coming together through the tenant bootcamps his Be:Seattle is organizing across the city. The next camp, by the way, is next week in the Central District.

Silvernail said the effort to collect signatures for I-127 by September to make the ballot this fall — 10% of the total number of votes in the last mayoral election is the goal — is underway and you should expect to see volunteers around Capitol Hill Station.

You can learn more at whatsinmyrent.com.

Capitol Hill tenant rights group wants your voice to support Seattle Renters’ Commission legislation

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 3.18.44 PMLegislation to form a first in the nation City Hall commission representing tenants could have its final session in front of a Seattle City Council committee Wednesday and the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative is calling for a show of support to help push the bill through to a final vote:

We need renters at this meeting to show the Council and the City that we are civically engaged and eager to have our voices heard. As we move closer to the full council vote, we must continue to show up at key events for this ground-breaking piece of legislation. Equally as important as attending this meeting, we need renters there to give a short (1-2 min) testimony. This testimony could be as simple as sharing your renter story and expressing your opinion on this piece of legislation. See you there!

Can’t attend this meeting? Take 5 minutes to email/call the council!
Council contact information here:
https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council

The legislation will be part of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee’s morning session starting with public comment at 9:30 AM. Take a moment to add a brief email comment tonight.

CHS wrote here on early support for the Seattle Renters’ Commission. A substitute version of the bill will be up for discussion Wednesday. You can see the draft marked with changes in red here (PDF). You’ll note that the express inclusion of “renters who have experienced homelessness” as a desired part of the commission’s makeup is the most significant change.

The bill would create a 15-member commission to give renters in the city a voice on not only tenant rights and affordability issues but also related concerns like transportation access and economic development. It is also hoped to help further shape initiatives under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

UPDATE: The legislation has been passed out of committee and will head to the full council on Monday where it is expected to be approved. Officials hope for the commission to begin meeting this summer after a spring application and approval process.

Seattle Renters’ Commission bill sees early support in City Hall debut

The proposed Seattle Renters’ Commission made its debut in the City Council’s Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee meeting last week. Early signs indicate good support for the proposed 15-member commission that aims to give renters in the city a voice on not only tenant rights and affordability but also related issues like transportation access and economic development.

“There’s a lot of issues that touch renters and they’re not often at the table,” said Sera Day, legislative assistant to council member Tim Burgess, prime sponsor of the ordinance.

“As rents continue rising, it’s critical that renters are given space to engage city government with a strong and organized voice,” Capitol Hill Community Council president Zachary DeWolf said Friday. “… This ordinance will create a platform for renters to get engaged in civic life and fully invest in their neighborhoods and ultimately our city of Seattle.”

Sierra Hansen, executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, also spoke in support of the commission.

“I think that this is an amazing effort among Capitol Hill residents that will benefit folks across Seattle,” Hansen said. Continue reading

Central District Tenant Rights Bootcamp

Trying to get repairs? Worried about losing your deposit? Confused about new Seattle tenant laws? Worried about eviction?

Tenant Rights Bootcamps are a neighborhood-by-neighborhood series teaching renters how to to assert their rights, find solutions to various issues, and make change in their community.

Tenants walk away from Bootcamps with a better understanding of their rights, current Seattle landlord/tenant laws, and resources to help in trying times. They will also have the opportunity to sit and talk with someone knowledgeable in WA State tenant law.

With Tenant Rights Bootcamps, renters don’t need to search for answers. We bring resources to the people.

Tenant Rights Bootcamps are a partnership between Be:Seattle Organizing and the Legal Action Center.

This Bootcamp is co-hosted by organizers from SAFE

More info at seattletenantbootcamps.org.