First look: inside Capitol Hill Station

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

With a message one Sound Transit official was so proud of he repeated it twice, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray lead a media tour Tuesday morning of the “ahead of schedule and under budget” U-Link subway line’s Capitol Hill Station.

“When U-Link opens early next year it will transform how people get around this city,” Constantine said before getting to the heart of the matter — a public push to pass the state transportation budget in Olympia including a fully-funded Sound Transit 3 package.

Mayor Murray echoed the call to Olympia before heading underground below Broadway. “Tens of thousands of people will use this as a way to commute to work,” Murray said, “to enjoy life when they’re not working. It’s going to make a difference.”

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Tuesday’s tour was the first public opportunity to see inside the $110 million station that stretches from John to Denny below two acres of Broadway just northwest of Cal Anderson Park. Later this summer, Sound Transit says it will begin “pre-revenue testing” on the twin tracks between downtown and Montlake via Capitol Hill. Starting around August, every train will continue from Westlake tunnel to put the system fully through its paces. Passengers, of course, will need to get off the train before it continues all the way to UW station.
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More transit prep on Broadway: If you spot ‘smoke,’ don’t worry — Capitol Hill Station airflow test


A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station's main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station’s main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

If you see smoke Friday night coming from the under construction Capitol Hill Station, you can probably relax. Sound Transit says contractors will be conducting tests of the station’s “airflow”

Friday, May 22, from 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sound Transit’s contractors at both the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations will perform airflow tests in the University Link tunnels. Nearby residents and passersby may notice artificial smoke (a dense vapor produced by a fog machine) exiting vent shafts at the station sites. Additional airflow tests will also be performed on May 30-31 and June 6-7 during daytime hours.

If this were an actual emergency, never fear — Capitol Hill’s Fire Station 25 is home to Seattle’s only special tunnel firefighting machine.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The work is part of preparations through the rest of 2015 to open Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway.

You can get a sneak peek here of the UW station and a look here at what it’s like inside the 3.1 mile tunnels. Riders will descend around 90 feet via escalators and elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform, according to Sound Transit diagrams. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by an entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site. By 2030, about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day.

Above ground, the process to develop the sites around the Broadway light rail site with a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, a community plaza, and commercial space — including a home being planned for a new grocery store — is underway and planners are adjusting bus routes in anticipation of the new transit service coming online. Meanwhile, the surface level streetcar has begun testing on Broadway with hopes of opening the service to riders later this summer.

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Developer shows off plans for Capitol Hill Station housing and The Market Hall

unnamedSiteMapv4-W-Map-1024x807-600x472-1-400x315For the first time since they were selected to develop the housing and retail sites that will one day surround the Capitol Hill light rail station, developers Gerding Edlen met with the Capitol Hill community Saturday to show off its early designs for the project.

The Portland-based developer set up posters inside E Pine’s Century Ballroom for a public viewing of the company’s winning proposal, which Sound Transit selected and made available last month. The event was co-hosted by Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Champion, a neighborhood group that’s worked for years to insert community priorities into the “transit orientated development” project.

Members from the Gerding team and architects from Schemata Workshop were on hand to answer questions and take public feedback during the three hour open house. The event was a kickoff of sorts to a new round of community engagement on the project as Sound Transit spent much of the past six months scoring proposals from four teams.

A dog swimming pool, music practice spaces, a newsstand, and more vibrant color palettes were just a few of the colorful suggestions attendees offered after viewing the designs Saturday. Continue reading

Bus Stop | Metro releases less ambitious plan to restructure routes as light rail comes to Capitol Hill

proposed-midday-frequenciesThe proposals for improving the bus network in Capitol Hill that have been coming from King County Metro over the past few years have varied pretty widely. From an emergency service proposal to staunch the effect of massive bus cuts, to a Seattle-only expanded service proposal that hasn’t even taken effect yet, the ideas for changing bus service on the Hill have been all over the place, and it would not be unreasonable to assume that the average Hill resident has not been able to keep up with them.

This week, Metro released its latest University Link restructuring proposal for Capitol Hill and northeast Seattle, set to take effect in the first quarter of 2016. After taking comments regarding its two alternatives, Metro has released a third proposal, dropping most of the really frequent service and retaining almost every area’s direct connection to downtown. The result is a proposal that falls short of a frequent service grid that was its clear ambition with alternative 1.

Here are the proposed changes, with the most dramatic stuff first. Continue reading

Meet the Capitol Hill Station developers

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(Image: Gerding Edlen)

Representatives from the company selected to lead the most significant development project on Capitol Hill… ever will be on hand Saturday to meet with the community and begin the public process of sharing their vision for the blocks of Broadway between John and Denny surrounding Capitol Hill Station.


Capitol Hill Champion — Meet the Developers
Saturday, May 16th – 1 to 4 PM
Century Ballroom

In April, CHS reported on the selection of Portland-based Gerding Edlen as the “master developer” for the multi-site retail and housing projects. A protest from Capitol Hill Housing could also put the local nonprofit developer in the mix to handle the affordable housing earmarked for the B-North site. Developers were allowed to plan for 85-foot tall buildings along Broadway in exchange for going above minimum affordable housing requirements.

The $1.8 billion light rail extension connecting downtown to the University of Washington under Capitol Hill is expected to open for service by early 2016. Sound Transit forecasts that by 2030, there will be 14,000 boardings a day at Capitol Hill Station. The transit oriented development around the station on Broadway will add some 400 apartments to the site as part of 100,000 square feet of “transit oriented development” including housing, commercial, and community spaces.

Worker injured in fall at Broadway construction site

CORRECTION: CHS erroneously reported the location of this incident. It occurred at the construction site across the street from the Capitol Hill Station site near where the Hollywood Lofts project is being completed.

Seattle Fire units responded to construction site in the 100 block of Broadway E Monday afternoon after a worker fell approximately 20 feet and was seriously injured.

SFD reports that the worker who fell was conscious before being transported from the scene at Broadway and E Denny to Harborview.

According to Seattle Fire, the worker in his 40s fell from construction equipment at the site around 12:30 PM.

Washington State Labor and Industries is investigating the incident.

Sound Transit: The ‘restoration’ of Broadway and John about to begin

This image of the “conex box” was featured in our January 16th “week in pictures” post

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(Image: Sound Transit — so don’t blame us for the E Olive Way mistake)

It sounds nearly biblical. With service slated to begin in less than a year and the bulk of tunnel and station construction complete, Sound Transit has announced that its contractors will begin a new phase of work this weekend to recreate the sidewalk, curbs, and gutters around Capitol Hill Station along Broadway and E John. Details of the construction work are below including the planned removal Saturday of the big red “conex box” used for pedestrian safety along E John adjacent the construction site. Removal of the Big Red Wall is also underway along with the art projects that have accumulated on the block over the the past five years. Sound Transit estimates the restoration will take about six weeks.

Meanwhile, we’re told Sound Transit was preparing a response to Capitol Hill Housing’s protest over details of the proposal from Gerding Edlen for the Portland-based developer to lease or purchase — and then develop — the transit agency’s two acres of land surrounding Capitol Hill Station. All sides say the issue is moving forward and that they expect to have a resolution in place before a planned May 16th open house.

Restoration of Broadway and E. John Street starts May 2nd

Sound Transit’s contractor has obtained a noise variance from the City of Seattle to remove the pedestrian conex box on E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E. from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015. Residents may hear noise from the equipment used to remove the conex box and from trucks used to load and haul the pieces from the site.

There will be intermittent closures of the eastbound curb lane on E. John Street in order to safely complete the removal. A police officer and flaggers will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area.

Following the conex box removal, crews will begin to demolish the red wall at this location, then install curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the east side of Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street and along E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E.

On-street parking will be restricted along Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street during restoration work. This phase of restoration is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete, depending on weather.
What to expect:

  • Flaggers and detour signage will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area. Intermittent daytime noise from demolition and saws and jackhammers as crews break up concrete and repave the area.
  • Sidewalk closures and restricted on-street parking in the work area.

Further updates will be provided as work proceeds in the area.

What the 17-story apartment tower set to replace the First Hill McDonald’s will look like

(Image: Holland Partners)

(Image: Holland Partners)

In the most urbanist of all universes, the projects up for discussion at Wednesday night’s meeting of the East Design Review Board would switch places, the 17-story apartment tower planned to rise above the corner currently home to the First Hill McDonald’s would take up residence on 10th Ave E behind the coming-soon Capitol Hill Station, the four-story apartment building planned to neighbor the most mass of mass transit booted over to First Hill… well, actually, in the most urbanist of all universes, nobody would bother building a four-story apartment building.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 4.10.48 PM1001 Minor Ave
Early Design Guidance application proposing a 17-story building containing 199 residential units and 5000 sq.ft. commerical space. Parking for 160 vehicles to be provided below grade. / View Design Proposal  (16 MB)    

Review Meeting
April 22, 2015 6:30 pm

Seattle University

824 12th Ave
Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  
Project Number: 3019363  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: BreAnne McConkie

Late last year, CHS broke the news that the First Hill McDonald’s at Minor and Madison was being lined up by developer Holland Partners for a 17-story, mixed-use apartment tower at the site. Wednesday night, the review board will weigh the proposal for the first phase of the development process for the project.

The developers call the proposed project “a valuable addition to the diversity in the First Hill Area.” Continue reading

Sound Transit ready to select developer for Capitol Hill Station retail+housing sites — UPDATE: ‘Master Developer’

Rendering of the future Capitol Hill Station "site A" from top-ranked developer Gerding Edlen

Rendering of the future Capitol Hill Station “site A” from top-ranked developer Gerding Edlen

SiteMapv4-W-Map-1024x807-600x472-1The multi-site retail and housing project that will surround the Capitol Hill light rail station between John and Denny will be one of Broadway’s defining features for decades to come. Now it’s time to find out who gets to build it.

After having nearly six months to score bid proposals from four development teams, Sound Transit is expected to announce the winning developers this week. The four-site project will include 100,000 square feet of “transit oriented development,” including housing, commercial, and community spaces.

The winning developer team will need to be confirmed by the Sound Transit Board, which is expected to happen at this Thursday’s meeting.

UPDATE 1:28 PM: Sound Transit has announced that Portland-based Gerding Edlen Development’s bid as a “master developer” for all properties has ranked highest in the selection process. Plans call for 418 apartments with 38 percent of units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and 86 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A third of the units will have at least two bedrooms.

Gerding estimates the project to cost $124 million for three sites, not including the affordable housing site. According to the 262-page bid document, construction for Site A is slated to start around summer 2016 and last through August 2017.

Site B North (Image: Gerding Edlen)

Site B North (Image: Gerding Edlen)

In a win for neighborhood activists, the developer plans to include space for a community center and daycare with subsidized rates, and signaled its intention to sign a 24-year lease with the Broadway Farmers Market. Letters of intent from the farmers market and Bright Horizons were included in the winning bid packet, as was a proposal for a LGBTQ office space called OutSmart Co-working.

On the retail side, Gerding says it heard the neighborhood’s calls for smaller storefronts to accommodate local independent shops and will include such spaces in the project. The developers are also seeking an anchor tenant for a larger space, and are already in talks with “a northwest-based neighborhood grocer interested in expanding operations to Seattle.”

Plans for a retail “bazaar” at Site A-North, called The Market Hall, envision “a mix of local retailers, served by booths of varying sizes to accommodate the start-up entrepreneur as well as more established specialty retailers.” Gerding says it plans to work closely with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to select a retail broker and future tenants.

Seattle architecture firms Hewitt and Schemata Workshop were both tapped by Gerding to help design the buildings, which will be subject to a streamlined design review process.

“This development will be a neighborhood asset for decades to come,” said Sound Transit Board member and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in a statement. “As a centerpiece of the Broadway business district, with affordable housing, a farmers market and a daycare, this proposal envisions a community for all to enjoy.”

The project’s affordable housing building, Site B-North, was intended to be developed and run by a nonprofit housing organization, but Gerding’s nonprofit partner pulled out from the project last year. Gerding says it intends to find another nonprofit partner to run the site.

Scenarios for leasing and purchasing the two acre Broadway property were both included in Gerding’s bid document. Sound Transit has valued the properties at $25 million. Contract negotiations are expected to last through the end of the year.

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Capitol Hill Station’s next stop: Transportation Choices shows sneak peek of UW Station

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choice

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choices

Last Tuesday, we told you the Big Red Wall around the future Capitol Hill Station was beginning to come down in preparation for U-Link’s expected 8% under budget, six or so months early depending on who’s counting, early 2016 (March?) start of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Capitol Hill.

Pfew! That’s exciting!

So, how about a look at the other end of the equation! Here’s a peek inside your northern light rail destination adjacent Husky Stadium, courtesy Transportation Choices:

TCC got an inside look at both stations today, and here are some pictures of the highlights of the gorgeous UW Station (Capitol Hill station pictures are embargoed but we assure you, it looks great!).

We’re only a little envious of you, TCC, and your embargoed pics of the Broadway light rail station. At least we know what Capitol Hill Station art will look like integrating works by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney and a massive “Jet Kiss” sculpture by artist Mike Ross. And, of course, we did get to do this: