Happy six-month birthday, Capitol Hill Station.
Mass Transit Now, the pro-Sound Transit 3 campaign, is using the half-year milestone since this spring’s opening of light rail connecting the Husky Stadium and Broadway to downtown to tout the local success both transit and economic of the service as part of its push for the $53.8 billion funding package.
“For the past six months, Capitol Hill businesses are thrilled to see an increase in customers using light rail to shop, dine and drink,” Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen says in a press release sent out by the campaign Monday. “Broadway and surround areas are abuzz with new visitors from around the city, region and world as folks realize they can travel to the coolest neighborhood from downtown in under 10 minutes.” Continue reading
As Central Co-op attempts to win a place anchoring the commercial development around Capitol Hill Station and repair the situation in Tacoma where it is looking for a new location to open a market after this year’s merger, it will do so while searching for a new leader.
CEO Dan Arnett told the 40-year-old cooperative’s members Thursday he will be stepping down in December to head a co-op in Sacramento. Arnett told CHS he was ready for a new challenge and that controversy over the closure of Central Co-op Tacoma had no impact on his decision to leave Seattle.
“It’s really irrelevant to my decision making process,” he said. “There’s always some group that’s mad about something.”
Overseeing the merger of the Tacoma co-op with the E Madison-headquartered Central Co-op was one of Arnett’s most significant accomplishments during his four years in Seattle. The Tacoma store later closed when Central Co-op could not reach an agreement on a new lease. Arnett said there were no plans for Central Co-op to make any further mergers, with Sacramento or elsewhere.
Last month, CHS reported on the frustrations of Tacoma co-op members following the abrupt closure of their store in the wake of a merger. Christine Cooley of Tacoma’s Friends of the Co-op group told CHS that she hopes Arnett’s resignation could expedite the opening of a new Tacoma store. “I worry a lot for Sacramento,” she said.
A busker at Capitol Hill Station’s grand opening earlier this year
Just like a real big city neighborhood, Capitol Hill now has a subway station. And like a big city of the future, you can use your phone in the subway tunnels. Starting today, our subway will get another important feature — station buskers.
Sound Transit began a six-month trial Thursday allowing busking on Capitol Hill Station and University of Washington Station property:
Sound Transit believes that allowing buskers to perform at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations will help retain existing users, as well as attract new users, and is consistent with promoting transit-related activities. Accordingly, Sound Transit is adopting this pilot program for a 6 month period to assess the feasibility of adopting a permanent policy regarding performances by buskers.
How the TOD sites look now. (Image: CHS)
What the project might look like in 2019 (Image: Gerding Edlen)
In spring 2018, developer Gerding Edlen will finally break ground on the 100,000-square-foot Capitol Hill Station commercial, housing, and community space project. To do it, the developer needs to sign a land lease for the Sound Transit-owned property.
On Thursday, the Sound Transit board will vote on three 99-year lease agreements to hand over control of Sites A, B-South, and C — the paved over, fenced off parcels along Broadway between E Denny Way and E John. If approved, it would put Gerding on track to finish the project in fall 2019.
UPDATE (3:20 PM): The Sound Transit board unanimously approved the lease agreements Thursday afternoon, paving they way for Gerding Edlen to dive into the design phase of the project. “Today is a really exciting day,” said Sarah Lovell, a member of Sound Transit’s “transit orientated development” staff.
In addition to some 400 apartments, the project will include a retail “bazaar” anchored by a grocery store. Portland-based New Seasons Market and Capitol Hill’s Central Co-op are currently vying to take over the space. The project is also slated to include a daycare, community space, and permanent home for the Broadway Farmers Market.
Board members said the project would be an example for all future TOD projects along the expanding light rail system. Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff praised his staff following the vote, saying many had lived and breathed the deal for the past six months. “It’s easily the most ambitious TOD action the agency has ever taken,” he said.
Your three minute and change light rail rides through the tunnels to downtown and UW via Capitol Hill Station might seem a little longer. Tuesday, the switch was flipped to turn on the neutral host 4G LTE cell network — a multi-carrier network with data — built to eventually service all of Sound Transit’s underground light rail stations and tunnels.
Wireless infrastructure provider Mobilitie built and runs the network and is working with Sound Transit to roll out the service segment by segment, carrier by carrier. Anybody annoying you this week by grunting “uh huh” over and over again is a T-Mobile customer. Soon, Verizon and AT&T “uh huh” grunters will follow. Seattle Transit Blog reports Sprint has yet to sign a contract to be part of the early service deployment.
There have already been a few early adopters, of course: Continue reading
The Capitol Hill Champion group is looking for community feedback about the development around the light rail station on Broadway.
CHC is specifically interested in hearing from Capitol Hill residents who haven’t been as vocal so far in the design process and is looking for focus group participants this fall.
The first of four focus groups includes seniors, families with small children and people with accessibility or mobility challenges. The second group will be made up of artists, students and the nightlife community. The next group includes small business owners and workers — especially those in the service industry. The final group will consist of social service professionals and people who are homeless.
To participate in a focus group go to tinyurl.com/CHCFocusGroupApp.
The Champion is a joint project from the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce that began in 2010. The organization has been advocating for community design priorities during the light rail development.
Over the weekend, CHS’s Re:Take history series took a look back at some of the lost bus routes of Capitol Hill. We don’t have to look back far in time to find the changes. Late last year, Metro planned out a wave of revisions and reroutes to optimize its service around the opening of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station and UW.
Now, the Seattle Transit Blog has provided the first look at how ridership on the altered bus lines has changed in the first months as ridership on light rail has soared.
STB grouped the impacted Capitol Hill routes into a set of winners…
- Route 11: up 38% — The #11 is likely absorbing demand on Pine Street east of Broadway for former Route 10 riders unwilling to walk to Link. Continue reading
Sound Transit may consider it an encouraging problem to have that the chief complaint among riders of its recently expanded light rail system is that trains are sometimes overcrowded. During last week’s Sound Transit board meeting, members asked transit officials to respond to public demand for more capacity and explain why more three-car trains are not running on the mostly two-car system.
It turns out that even with the huge boost in ridership since the Capitol Hill and UW stations opened in March, Link light rail is still well within its capacity on most trips.
“We cannot guarantee that everyone will have a seat during peak hours, nor was that how the system was designed or funded,” said David Huffaker, Sound Transit’s deputy executive director of operations. Continue reading
The lots surrounding the Capitol Hill Station are currently empty. (Image: CHS)
One day, the sites around the station will look something like this.
As trains swiftly carry thousands of passengers through Capitol Hill’s subway station every day, the process to develop the area above ground continues to inch forward.
Next week, the Sound Transit Board is expected to approve a sale agreement for one parcel, known as Site B-North. The vote during the July 28th meeting will pave the way for Capitol Hill Housing to start designing and building an 86-unit affordable housing project. In August, the board is expected to approve land leases for the three other sites so developer Gerding Edlen can move forward with its plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial, housing, and community space.
Sound Transit has not yet publicly released the lease agreements or the preliminary agreements signed earlier this month, saying that it may compromise negotiations with other developers should the Gerding deal fall through. The agency, which purchased the Broadway sites between E Denny Way and E John and demolished them in 2009 to build the underground station, has previously said the parcels were worth around $25 million and that Gerding was aiming for a 75-year deal to lease the properties.
Members of the Capitol Hill Champion group have been planning and anticipating the milestone for years after helping to forge a development agreement that included community benefits like space for a farmers market and affordable housing. “It’s exciting we’re finally getting to this point,” said Champion co-chair Brie Gyncild Continue reading
A Central Co-op checker
Only months after merging with the grocery cooperative, Central Co-op announced Monday it has closed Tacoma’s Central Co-op 6th Ave location after after what it says was a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful negotiation on a new lease:
Dear South-Sound Owners and Community,
Effective July 18, 2016, the Central Co-op 6th Avenue site in Tacoma is closed for business and a search for a new location in the Tacoma area has been initiated. Our Board of Trustees made this decision after months of lease negotiations failed to produce a mutually agreeable set of terms between the landlord and the Cooperative. The closure of the 6th Avenue location is a sad and unexpected turn of events. After years of operating at this location, we were confident that all parties could come to an agreement that would benefit our business, our membership, and the property owner. We continued negotiations until we realized that a solution was beyond our reach and made the decision to close in order to give ourselves time to exit in a responsible manner. Our team is actively evaluating other sites in the Tacoma area with plans to re-open.
Our union contract with UFCW Local 367 includes language for closure and layoffs that will guide our process with the staff of the 6th Avenue location.
We remain committed to our South-Sound membership. Our Co-op’s staff and trustees are focused on finding a new location for our Tacoma operations. Throughout this process we will continue to serve our South-Sound community with events, community partnerships, and regular Co-op news updates. Continue reading
Denny has already debuted as an unofficial festival street
Turns out, just because CHS calls something a festival street doesn’t make it an official City of Seattle festival street.
The Capitol Hill Champion group is drumming up community support for its push to convince the Seattle Department of Transportation powers that be — hi, Seth Geiser! — to officially designate the street for future festival purposes.
The city’s festival street program allows streets that aren’t considered vital arteries to be closed to traffic “for pedestrian-focused special events.” The newly one-way Denny already has already debuted as a quasi-festival street — most famously as host of the Capitol Hill Station grand opening celebration’s street fair. Continue reading
Light rail travelers at Capitol Hill Station over the holiday weekend had to do a double-take — or worse:
Riders were surprised to find the “up” escalator was suddenly the “down” escalator — vice versa. Continue reading