Developer, Sound Transit ‘really close’ on $25 million deal for Broadway light rail properties

Those birds are still flying over the concept renderings for the future Capitol Hill Station development

Those birds are still flying over the concept renderings for the future Capitol Hill Station development

8446655114_9e5d1f2e6e_o (1)As controversy swirls around its plans for an anchor tenant in the project, a representative for Gerding Edlen said the developer is “really close” to finalizing its big deal with Sound Transit to create 100,000 square feet of housing, commercial, and community projects on the now-empty land surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

“We’re working really closely with Sound Transit to a deal structure that works for us and them,” Gerding Edlen partner Jill Sherman tells CHS.

“It’s been extremely productive.”

The light rail station and the 3.1-mile U-Link subway line between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway is slated to open March 19th. But the “transit oriented development” around the project likely won’t begin construction until late 2017.

More good news for the process to shape the development came for the Capitol Hill Champion community group this week with word it has received a $10,000 grant from the city to boost its “outreach and advocacy for community priorities” on the massive development.

Group representative Mel Burchett tells CHS the Champion plans to use the funding to learn more about the needs of specific groups around the Hill:

Specifically, we want to hold smaller meetings/charettes with focus groups in coordination with the development team for the sites.  We don’t know yet what priorities our groups will focus on, or specifically who these groups will be.  We plan to review our outreach to-date and target groups that we feel have been  underrepresented at our larger meetings (such as parents with small children, students, seniors, etc)

Earlier this month, CHS wrote about the growing need for senior housing on Capitol Hill but Champion representatives said it is too early to say what the focus will be for the group’s work to shape the coming projects.

“We are just beginning to develop our strategy, and plan to re-survey the community soon,” Burchett said.

A five-year fight to shape the bidding process for the developments with community priorities including affordable housing and a market plaza culminated in last year’s selection of Gerding Edlen as the “master developer” for four project areas around the future light rail station. Because of the community guidelines, developers were allowed to plan for 85-foot tall buildings along Broadway in exchange for going above the minimum affordable housing requirements.

According to Gerding Edlen, the company will purchase the property planned for affordable housing property from Sound Transit and sign leases for three other parcels. Sound Transit said the land was worth around $25 million and that Gerding Edlen was aiming for a 75-year deal to lease the properties. Continue reading

Labor groups oppose New Seasons Market as candidate for Capitol Hill Station tenant

Screen-Shot-2015-04-21-at-1.49.04-PM1-600x366Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 6.31.18 PMA Portland-based grocery chain believed to be the frontrunner to a large retail space on Broadway is already facing opposition from labor organizations that say the company is anti-union.

New Seasons Market has not been publicly identified as the anchor tenant for the four-site retail and housing development to surround the U-Link light rail Capitol Hill Station, but labor and advocacy groups believe it tops the list.

Last year developer (and fellow Portlander) Gerding Edlen said they were in talks with a northwest-based grocer interested in expanding to Seattle to become the anchor tenant to the “transit orientated development” project. New Seasons does fit the bill, though neither Gerding nor New Seasons have publicly confirmed a deal.

In a letter to the Sound Transit Board, eight Seattle unions and advocacy organizations said they are concerned with “an anti-union climate” at the stores and cite Seattle’s Metropolitan Markets or PCC Markets as better choices.

UPDATE: Gerding partner Jill Sherman confirmed New Seasons was the grocer the company had been in discussions with through the bid process, but said no final decision has been made on a tenant. Sherman has also met with the group Puget Sound Sage, one of the letter’s signatories.

“We have been made aware of the concerns,” Sherman said.  “New Seasons is very well respected in our market for their businesses practices.”

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Date set for opening of Capitol Hill Station, start of U-Link service — UPDATE: 3/19/16

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In 2014, CHS took a walk through the tunnels (Image: CHS)

In 2014, CHS took a walk through the tunnels (Image: CHS)

More than six years after the first fences went up and five years after the tunnel boring first began, Sound Transit has picked a date to open its new U-Link light rail line connecting downtown to Montlake via Broadway’s new Capitol Hill Station.

An announcement of the expected March launch date is planned for Tuesday’s lunch hour at the underground station along Broadway between John and Denny.

Via ulink2016.org/station-tour

UPDATE 12:42 PM: Service will begin Saturday, March 19th, one week ahead of a planned restructure of Seattle’s Metro bus routes. Here’s Sound Transit’s promo for the big day:

It’s time to celebrate the opening of the University Link light rail extension! Service to Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 19, 2016. We are planning for a day of fun and adventure, with activities and entertainment for all ages. Visit ulink2016.org to learn all about U Link and our Launch Day plans.

The new sign was up for Tuesday's announcement

The new sign was up for Tuesday’s announcement

Speaking inside the Capitol Hill Station, Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled a countdown clock to the 10 AM departure of the first U-Link train from the University of Washington Station to Capitol Hill.

“This is actually going to be an incredibly positive moment on Broadway in its history,” said Murray, a longtime Capitol Hill resident. “This is going to create businesses and restaurants once again on Broadway.”

Sound Transit is planning a celebration on Capitol Hill to commemorate the launch. Officials said details would be coming soon. A week after the two new stops open, Metro busses will begin new routes to better connect riders to the stations. “It will be a real change to the way people get around,” Constantine said.

By 2030, around 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day. However, a Sound Transit spokesperson said that a revised projection would show even more usage as the system improvements in Sound Transit 2 were not factored into the original estimates. Sound Transit estimates that from 2015-2017, light rail’s average weekday ridership will increase by about 26,000 boardings.

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Light rail fares are based on how far riders travel. Traveling south from Capitol Hill, adult fares start at $2.25 to go as far as the SODO station, $2.50 to Othello, $2.75 to Rainier Beach, and $3 to Sea-Tac Airport. The fare from Capitol Hill to Husky Stadium will be $2.25.


(Table courtesy @GordonWerner)

The March service start is a major point of pride for Sound Transit and Constantine, who praised the agency for its early completion of the two stations and twin-bored tunnels. Of course, “early” depends on when you start counting. Plans for the line were first drafted in 2000, but the project timeline was rebooted in 2008. From that mark, starting service in March would put the project six months ahead of schedule and $150 million under budget.

Bike parking will be available at the station entrance at E Denny Way by the time trains are running, according to Sound Transit. Eventually, bike cages will be added as part of the “transit orientated development” that will surround the station in the coming years.

Tuesday brings the second announcement of a major Capitol Hill transportation project’s start of service — though it won’t see the same rapid turnaround from announcement to operations. Last week, Seattle Department of Transportation officials followed a Friday announcement of the start of the First Hill Streetcar line with a Saturday return of streetcar passenger service on Broadway for the first time in 75 years.

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‘Aging in place’ on Capitol Hill

Artist's depiction of the housing planned around Capitol Hill Station

Artist’s depiction of the housing planned around Capitol Hill Station

Believe it or not, there are people on Capitol Hill whose silver locks aren’t the result of a granny-hair trend. The U.S. Census estimates that 21% of residents in the 98112 ZIP code are 60 or older. These senior citizens, many of whom have lived in the area for a long time, are choosing to stay on the Hill, either in their homes, or in some of the new and established facilities which cater to older folks. Meanwhile, more are choosing to stay or come here as the transportation investments that are part and parcel with dense, urban environments are also the kinds of mobility features that appeal to seniors.

More senior housing may be on the horizon next to the Broadway light rail station, said Brie Gyncild, co-chair of Capitol Hill Champion, a group focusing on the developments around the transit facility.

“We’ve frequently heard the need for family housing on the Hill, but not quite as much about senior housing until recently,” she said.

Gyncild said the group has had discussions with site developer Gerding Edlen about including a plan for senior housing in the transit oriented development planned for the land around Capitol Hill Station.

Going forward, Gerding Edlen is planning meetings with different interest groups, and one of them will likely be with senior citizens, Gyncild said. “That conversation is likely to be more about the particular needs and concerns of seniors regarding the design of the plaza and other public spaces, building access, etc.,” she said.

But there are other new options and alternatives for an aging population. Wider Horizons Village, formed last summer and tries to work with seniors who wish to age in place.

“We help older people age well at home with social activities and services,” said Denise Klein, executive director of the nonprofit. Membership costs $600 per year, and the group has 76 members so far. Most members, Klein said, aren’t empty-nesters moving in from the suburbs, but people who have been here for a long time, and still live in the big houses on Capitol Hill, or in Montlake, Madrona or Leschi. Continue reading

ST3: a Capitol Hill view of what’s next for Sound Transit

Capitol Hill Station opens in March (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill Station opens in March, part of the great Seattle transit spring of 2016 (Image: CHS)

ST3's "candidate projects"

ST3’s “candidate projects”

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 7.53.11 AMFresh from passing the $930 million dollar Move Seattle transportation levy, Seattle voters will vote on another major transportation investment next November: Sound Transit 3, or ST3, the ballot measure that will finance and guide the expansion of our region’s light rail transit system. The final package of specific new light rail projects and a funding timeline has yet to be put together, but the Sound Transit Board is currently weighing a variety of proposals that bring broader, regional transit mobility to District 3 beyond the University District and downtown connections that come with the slated spring opening of the Capitol Hill light rail station on Broadway between John and Denny. Here is what to watch for — and ask for — as the plan comes together from Broadway’s point of view at Capitol Hill Station.

A long route
ST3 has been a long time in the making, and still has a long way to go before going to the Ballot next November. After last year’s bitter legislative session, lawmakers granted Sound Transit the authority to seek approval from voters to raise taxes (to the amount of $15 billion) to extend existing light rail lines created under ST2—the previous Sound Transit expansion package voters approved back in 2008—as well as build new completely lines within Seattle such as the very popular Ballard to West Seattle connection (potentially via a second downtown transit tunnel). To get the ball rolling on ST3, last summer, the Sound Transit board took input from regional residents on their picks for potential projects. After studying the preferred options, Sound Transit rolled out a set of candidate projects, in addition to various funding timelines in early December.

Now, the board will spend the next few months putting together a draft package to be put under the public’s microscope in March, after which extensive public input will be gathered before the final, final, package put before voters in November. For now, public input and advocacy is limited to writing individual board members about what you would like to see in the draft proposal.

For local transit advocates like Abigail Doerr, advocacy director for the pro-light rail Transportation Choices Coalition and a Capitol Hill resident, ST3 is a key opportunity to get it right to go all out and build out the regional mass transit network to its fullest extent. “We would like to see as many of these good candidate projects in the package.”

The Sound Transit board has a lot hash out in formulating the draft ST3 package. In addition to extending the ST2 era-lines further south to the Tacoma Dome from Federal Way, north from Lynnwood to Everett, and east from Bellevue to Redmond and Issaquah, the Seattle area candidate projects include variations of the famed Ballard to downtown Seattle line — sub-options for this project include elevated and at-grade lines, or a mix of both (some also feature a second downtown transit tunnel) — a downtown Seattle to West Seattle connection, a east/west Ballard to University District route, an extension down south to Burien from West Seattle, additional stations along the pre-existing light rail line snaking through the Rainier valley, studying a potential Ballard to Bothell line (via Lake City) and helping fund the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit line, a project in the heart of Capitol Hill, which is also relying on the Move Seattle levy and, potentially, federal grants. Continue reading

The great Seattle transit spring of 2016

Sept. 11, 2015 - Final roadway deck panels

22793353349_0900b6f8f0_bThe great Seattle transit spring of 2016 — or, at least, really swell first quarter of the year — is rounding into shape. State officials have announced an April grand opening for the new 520 bridge — the longest floating bridge… in the world:

The public will have the chance to run, bike or simply stroll across the world’s longest floating bridge in April. The Washington State Department of Transportation will host a grand opening celebration to mark the completion of the new State Route 520 floating bridge. The weekend festivities atop the new, 1.5-mile-long floating highway kicks off Saturday morning, April 2, with a community fun run and walk sponsored by the Virginia Mason Heart Institute. On Sunday, April 3, the 520 Go Long celebration closes with a public bicycle ride from the University of Washington, across the bridge and back, through car-free routes of downtown Seattle, and back to the university campus.

Part of the 520 festivities will include a once-in-a-lifetime ride with the Cascade Bicycle Club. Reminder: You’ll have another opportunity to celebrate the new 520 in the future when the full Seattle-side portion of the project is completed.

The April opening of 520 is a little bit off our report from October of planning efforts around the bridge and the March opening of the ahead-of-schedule, under-budget Capitol Hill Station and U-Link extension. A Sound Transit media event Wednesday afternoon at the future Roosevelt station didn’t include an announcement by new CEO Peter Rogoff of an official opening date for the new Broadway station and the 3.1-mile twin tunnels between downtown and Husky Stadium but the agency did confirm the March timeframe. We’d put our money on a Saturday in March if you’re the wagering type.

In the meantime, you can learn more for Sound Transit’s plans for U-District Station at an open house Thursday night. Light rail is expected to reach that portal by 2021:

(Image: Sound Transit)

(Image: Sound Transit)

We don’t know if the final element of the great Seattle public transit spring of 2016 will really stretch into spring but, yes, there is still not an official launch celebration date for the First Hill Streetcar yet, either — though November’s safety day and a recent City of Seattle planning meeting for an event in Pioneer Square indicate we’re (probably?) pretty close.

Bus Stop | What’s ahead in Capitol Hill transit in 2016

Streetcar Safety Day - 11 of 21One year ago we looked at things to come in 2015. One of those things we’re still waiting on, but most of them came to pass and improved what it meant to get around on Capitol Hill by public transit.

Let’s look ahead at what’s to come this year, which promises to be even bigger:

  • Capitol Hill Station opens: Okay, you knew this was coming. But a 3-minute trip to Husky Stadium or Westlake? This will be the biggest game changer Capitol Hill has seen in years. Look for service to begin in mid-March. And the next stops on the Link light rail extension plan, University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate, are only 5 years away at that. If you recall Twice Sold Tales getting the boot for Capitol Hill station, you know how fast that time can fly.
  • Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.33 PMChanges in the bus system: After most of the ideas to improve bus service on Capitol Hill by reducing duplication with light rail and attempting to better serve the station were pretty much all but destroyed, for good or for bad, there are a few changes coming to bus service in late March. The 43 will see its service reduced by quite a bit, to peak only, peak direction, and the new route 10 will take over for it between Bellevue Ave and 15th Ave. That being said, almost every single bus on Capitol Hill right now is running more frequently thanks to Seattle voters who passed Prop 1 in November 2014. Service is pretty dang frequent on the 49, 48, and 10 even if all of those routes don’t quite connect in the way that would benefit the neighborhood in the long term.
  • 24184154675_1d0615f078Pronto bike share begins a new phase of expansion: After being taken over by the city’s transportation department, the 2016 city budget includes $5 million to expand the system. Some of this expansion will likely take place in 2016 but expect more to follow. Currently the system covers most of Capitol Hill, but there are some notable gaps. An area ripe for seeing expansion: the Central District and North Capitol Hill. With so many bus routes not quite getting to Capitol Hill station, Pronto can be great last-mile booster and we’ll be covering how well it is integrated as a full-fledged transit mode. The Move Seattle levy voters passed last November will also pay for several new bike lanes and neighborhood greenway corridors that will make getting around by bike more of an option for a wider range of people.
  • (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    Oh yeah… the First Hill Streetcar: With a slew of improvements being put in right now to improve its sister streetcar, the South Lake Union Line, and a possible center city connector on the way that could merge them into one line, soon enough the delays in construction will be forgotten and the dim sum express will be ready to pick you up.

As Capitol Hill grows and the options for public transit also expand, we’ll continue to report on what’s being done to make our neighborhood accessible for all who live here and those who visit. Cheers to a good 2016, Capitol Hill transit riders.

CHS Pics | Capitol Hill Station big hand art a sign of good things to come in 2016

Forney in front of the almost ready to open Capitol Hill Station (Images: CHS)

Forney in front of the almost ready to open Capitol Hill Station (Images: CHS)

Who is ready to wave goodbye to 2015? On Friday’s chilly night, hands were busy linking pinkies and letting their fingers do the walking at a sidewalk party to celebrate the installation of local artist Ellen Forney’s giant murals at Capitol Hill Station — easily one of the most exciting reasons for 2016 to hurry up and get here.

When the station opens for service in March 2016, Forney’s Walking Fingers and Crossed Pinkies porcelain enamel on steel panels will greet thousands of riders descending and ascending the escalators at John and Broadway about where Twice Sold Tales used to stand. Meanwhile, down the escalator, the massive, hot pink Jet Kiss sculpture featuring the deconstructed hulls of two A-4 fighters hangs above the Broadway light rail station’s underground platform.

March of 2016 will be an amazing month for Seattle public transit. State officials are planning a grand opening event for the 520 bridge replacement project that will include a fun run across Seattle streets and WSDOT’s new floating bridge. But the ultimate highlight will be the opening of Capitol Hill Station. The $110 million Capitol Hill Station facility stretches from John to Denny below two acres of Broadway just northwest of Cal Anderson Park. When service begins, Broadway riders will descend around 65 feet via escalators or elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by a Seattle Central-friendly entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site. The ride from downtown to UW via Broadway is expected to take about 8 minutes — 3 minutes from the Hill to the Montlake station adjacent Husky Stadium.

And, maybe by then, the streetcar will also be running on Broadway.

With U-Link ‘97.8%’ complete, week of emergency drills scheduled for Capitol Hill Station

Sound Transit says: "The final section of the Red Wall surrounding the Capitol Hill Station came down last week. Over the past five years, the wall has been home to the temporary art by over 40 Seattle area artists. This is a very exciting milestone for University Link. " (Image: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit says: “The final section of the Red Wall surrounding the Capitol Hill Station came down last week. Over the past five years, the wall has been home to the temporary art by over 40 Seattle area artists. This is a very exciting milestone for University Link. ” (Image: Sound Transit)

As Capitol Hill Station prepares to open for service in 2016 (along with some special local art), Seattle-area first responders will be practicing emergency and rescue drills in the subterranean facility and twin light rail tunnels:

Sound Transit will host a series of emergency drills with Seattle first responders next MondayThursday at the new University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations. These drills are part of the commissioning process for the new University Link light rail line from downtown Seattle to UW that opens early next year. The drills offer local fire, police and aid crews a chance to familiarize themselves with the stations and emergency protocols. While the drills will take place entirely inside the stations and tunnels, neighbors can expect to see a large number of fire, police and medical vehicles in the vicinity of the station onCapitol Hill at Broadway and John and at UW just outside Husky Stadium.

UW Capitol Hill
Demolition 100% 100%
Station Excavation 100% 100%
Tunnel construction – TBM mining 100% 100%
Tunnel Construction – Cross Passage Excavation and Lining 100% 100%
Station construction 100% 98.6%
Power Systems & Track (overall) – 97.8% 97.8% 97.8%
U-Link Overall 98.7%

Meanwhile, Sound Transit happily reports the Big Red Wall is officially gone:

Walking Fingers, Crossed Pinkies soon to grace Capitol Hill Station

Forney got a rooftop view of the completed panels for Walking Fingers (Images: Ellen Forney with permission to CHS)

Forney got a rooftop view of the completed panels for Walking Fingers (Images: Ellen Forney with permission to CHS)

With Capitol Hill Station fully on track for a March 2016 opening, it’s time to install the art.

Or, the rest of it.

The massive, hot pink Jet Kiss sculpture featuring the deconstructed hulls of two A-4 fighters was hung during construction of the Broadway light rail station’s underground platform.

"The top design is 'Walking Fingers,' a 28' x 20' mural for the Sound Transit Capitol Hill Light Rail Station's west entry (near Seattle Central Community College).  The bottom design is 'Crossed Pinkies,' a 40' x 10' mural for the light rail station's north entry (the corner of Broadway and John)."

“The top design is ‘Walking Fingers,’ a 28′ x 20′ mural for the Sound Transit Capitol Hill Light Rail Station’s west entry (near Seattle Central Community College).
The bottom design is ‘Crossed Pinkies,’ a 40′ x 10′ mural for the light rail station’s north entry (the corner of Broadway and John).”

Workers will soon begin installing two giant, paneled murals by local artist Ellen Forney. The panels for the works are still being finished but the walls are up and ready for installation. Forney agreed to let CHS share some behind the scenes looks at the final work. Continue reading