Capitol Hill’s 12th Ave Arts hoped to be a sign of things to come with Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability expansion

Mayor Jenny Durkan and city officials were on Capitol Hill Wednesday to sign the city’s new legislation expanding Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements and upzoning to Seattle’s densest neighborhoods, the largest step yet in addressing the city’s ongoing affordability crisis, and likely part of more to come if Seattle is to reach its ambitious goals for new affordable units over the next decade. The signing took place in the lobby of 12th Ave Arts where the 88 units of affordable housing are an example of how the new development fees will be put to work creating new places to live in an increasingly expensive city.

“The reason 12th Ave Arts was selected for this event is that the housing component was funded in part by city Incentive Zoning funds, the precursor to MHA,” Chris Persons, CEO of 12th Ave Arts nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing, said Wednesday.

“What was built here is far more than 88 units of affordable housing. We built community. The mission of Capitol Hill Housing is not simply to build housing. Our core purpose is to build vibrant and engaged communities”

Monday, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to pass the legislation expanding its MHA program to 27 neighborhoods across the city including Capitol Hill. MHA ties those upzones to the creation of affordable units either by requiring a portion of new housing to be made available at affordable rates or by requiring developers to pay into funding to build affordable housing elsewhere across the city.

The expansion signed Wednesday will also transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property to allow denser development.

The city says more than 45,000 Seattle households spend greater than 50% of their income on housing. MHA-generated housing will create a rent-restricted two-bedroom apartment for a family of four earning $60,200 would be $1,353, the city says. For an individual making less than $42,150, a one-bedroom would cost $1,128.

In a sample of recent ad listing for Capitol Hill apartments, a one-bedroom unit currently lists for around $1,800 — up only about 3% from a sampling we made this time of year in 2015 when rents had already exploded across the region.

The most significant changes to Capitol Hill zoning will come along Broadway from around Cal Anderson Park all the way north to Roy with plans to implement 75-foot height limits and “neighborhood commercial” zoning to allow seven-story buildings with commercial use throughout. Continue reading

Celebrate equitable, affordable development in the Central District at Liberty Bank Building ribbon cutting

The Liberty Bank Building, what many hope will be a model for equitable, affordable development in Seattle, will celebrate its opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday in the Central District.

Liberty Bank Building Ribbon Cutting Celebration

Saturday’s party will include live music and performances, and food.

Named to honor the region’s first Black-owned bank that once stood at the corner, the six-story, 115-unit affordable housing development is a collaboration between Capitol Hill HousingAfricatownThe Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place. Continue reading

In deference to neighboring church, ‘graceful’ First Hill apartment tower will rise only 8 stories — UPDATE

Wednesday morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan will be at Capitol Hill Housing’s affordable 12th Ave Arts building to sign into law the expansion of Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program into neighborhoods across the city including Capitol Hill. Wednesday night, a project to create some 350 new market rate apartments on First Hill will go before the design board for its first review.

While the timing of the eight-story project means its developer won’t be required to pay into the MHA pool — projects vested to a Land Use Code in effect before the upzones won’t be subject to the expanded program — the new development planned for 1100 Boylston will replace a surface parking lot with lots of new First Hill housing.

Design review: 1100 Boylston Ave

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Seattle passes Mandatory Housing Affordability plan to allow its densest neighborhoods to become even denser

A North Capitol Hill resident made his case against Eastlake upzoning prior to Monday’s vote

Four years and 40 Seattle City Council meetings later, the plan to surgically allow taller and more multifamily-packed development in the city’s densest neighborhoods including Capitol Hill has been approved.

“We’re embracing growth by embracing inclusion,” council member and Mandatory Housing Affordability committee chair Rob Johnson said Monday before the vote. “And we’re embracing inclusion by changing plans that were made 25 years ago.”

The vote Monday ran 9-0.

The MHA plan ties upzones in 27 of the city’s densest neighborhoods to the creation of affordable units and will transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property. Continue reading

Capitol Hill homeowners mount last-ditch effort against MHA upzoning… in Eastlake

The view from Harvard Ave E (Image: CHS)

They know they are probably too late. They know that after a multi-year journey of hearings, community meetings, public comment, and legal challenges, the Seattle City Council wants the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation, which connects affordability mandates to upzoning parts of the city’s densest neighborhoods, to reach its destination during a final vote Monday afternoon. Perhaps they even know Monday’s vote is basically pro forma, as council members have worked on it for years and voted unanimously to advance the legislation last month.

And, yet, a group of North Capitol Hill homeowners, along with the Eastlake Community Council, is trying to fight the upzoning of a seven-block-long (and mostly half a block-deep) sliver of I-5-bordering properties in Eastlake. The amendment for zoning increase, from low-rise to mid-rise with a height limit of 80’ on Boylston Ave. E and a short stretch of Franklin Ave. E was recently introduced and approved by the city council as part of a series of amendments that scaled back upzones across neighborhoods and increased some others. Continue reading

Destined for overhaul and preservation as part of mixed-use development, Harvard Ave’s Knights of Columbus building considered for landmarks protections — UPDATE

For a century, it was almost exclusively Catholic men called Knights who were allowed to freely roam the lounges, smoking room and bowling alley of the Knights of Columbus headquarters on the south edge of Capitol Hill. They could work out, or attend Glee Club, dinners, and public speaking classes. Women could not be members. They hung out in the Ladies Parlor.

If everything goes according to plan, by 2021 or so, people of all types will be able to roam the three-story steel and brick masonry, Renaissance Revival-style building. The new owner, SRM Development, a Spokane-based developer of multifamily and commercial properties, hopes to refurbish the historic building through adaptive reuse.

Wednesday afternoon, Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the building for historical protections during a public meeting and presentation. Continue reading

Seattle anti-displacement legislation focused on high risk, low opportunity areas — So, not Capitol Hill

As the Seattle City Council moves toward a vote later this month to finalize the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, legislation to buttress the program with extra protections against displacement in Seattle’s most vulnerable neighborhoods will begin moving forward Wednesday at City Hall.

Sponsored by West Seattle rep Lisa Herbold, the anti-displacement legislation will be taken up by the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee. Despite the Capitol Hill and Central District area’s high potential for displacement from continued redevelopment, Central Seattle’s many resources including jobs, high performing schools, and robust levels of transit would disqualify it from the proposed legislation’s protections. Continue reading

Requiem for the last Capitol Hill funeral home: Bonney Watson demolition underway

It is a funeral, of sorts. Unworthy of landmark status and in the way of a development that will create twin seven-story buildings with more than 200 units of market rate housing along with more than 16,000 square feet of new commercial space on Broadway, Capitol Hill’s Bonney Watson funeral home is being torn down this week.

The demolition of the 1961-constructed modern-style building the landmarks board called underwhelming, boxy, and, depressing is underway after the mortuary business active in Seattle since 1868 departed Capitol Hill for good last year.

In 2013, CHS reported on Bonney Watson’s place on Broadway and in Capitol Hill history. 30 years ago, the busy mortuary handled around 600 deaths annually. In recent years, business had dropped off to around 300 per year. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s upzoning on track to stay intact as Mandatory Housing Affordability enters final stretch

The Miller Park neighborhood could see more projects like the Julia Place Apartments (Image: CHS)

Upzoning plans around Capitol HIll’s Miller Park neighborhood will not be removed from the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability effort as the legislative process to shape the program enters a final phase with a public hearing this week.

Proposed amendments to the still-pending MHA legislation had been identified by council members, city staff, citizens and others. After the first set of proposals was released in January, each district council member had been left to decide what changes they’d like to see move forward within their own district boundaries.

Among the January proposals had been plans to remove some blocks near Miller Park from the program, but those didn’t make the cut. In District 3, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District, council member Kshama Sawant’s office only advanced four proposed changes to areas in the Central District –- all of which add density.

Keeping all of Madison Miller area in the program is just what affordable housing advocates were hoping for.

“We are hopeful that Council will honor the existing plan for MHA without amendments to the Madison Miller Urban Village,” wrote Erin Fried of Capitol Hill Housing. Continue reading

Design review: Is this 20th Ave townhouse project part of Seattle’s ‘missing middle’?

Just build it already. Wednesday night brings a design review for a 20th Ave project that seems like nobody really needs to review — four four-story townhouse buildings creating sixteen new homes replacing a set of two 1909-built single-family style structures that have seen better days.

But the East Design Review Board will give the projects a final once-over Wednesday:

Design review: 1711 20th Ave

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