The small unit: Review board looks at 15th/Howell microhousing project

1420 E Howell's future

1420 E Howell’s future

The future of 1420 E Howell

G’bye fourplex

The next two Capitol Hill apartment projects slated to come in front of the East Design Review Board starting Wednesday night share common frameworks: nimble projects squeezing as many highly coveted, small units as possible onto land where old single family homes or underutilized fourplexes stand today. They also share a common reaction from some neighbors in the area: complaints –

Will there be any restrictions on car ownership by residents of these buildings? Will they be eligible for zone 4 permits?
Even if there was parking provided for these units, the very high density would be a stress on the neighborhood parking just because of their guests parking on the street. While we have parking for our car, our friends do like like to come to visit us in Capitol Hill specifically because it is difficult for them to park.
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Capitol Hill developer sues homeowner for stalling 15th and Mercer project

The future Stream 15th

The future Stream 15th

A Capitol Hill developer has sued a homeowner for breaking a property lease agreement and stalling construction of a new 15th and Mercer mixed-use project, according to court documents obtained by CHS.

Stream Real Estate, developers of the Stream 15 project at the former Chutney’s Grille on the Hill site, filed a lawsuit in June against Chris Rugh, claiming the landowner prevented construction crews from rightfully accessing his property adjacent to the project site and bringing to a halt the construction of the four-story, mixed-use apartment building with 33 units, 3,400 square feet of retail or restaurant space and underground parking spaces.


Though it’s a battle over a laurel hedge and a temporary utility pole, the situation is causing a rare pause in the somewhat relentless pace of development around Capitol Hill.

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How will new apartment dwellers mix with Pike/Pine nightlife?

The Capitol Hill Block Party's Vera stage had a new background in 2014

The Capitol Hill Block Party’s Vera stage had a new background in 2014. By 2015, there will be hundreds of residents in the new building at 11th and Union. “There is poignant juxtaposition… residential development and music festival. Next year there will be people living in those apartments,” CHBP producer Jason Lajeunesse told CHS. (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

If residents in new Pike/Pine buildings weren’t aware of both the fun and the noise of the nightlife-focused neighborhood they moved into, they certainly got a full dose of it during the weekend’s 18th annual Capitol Hill Block Party. With hundreds more apartment units slated to come online in the dense nightlife corridor, existing bar and club owners are hoping their new neighbors will be down with the sound. Even with soaring rents, turns out building developers aren’t doing much more than hoping the same thing, too.

Architects and other experts tell CHS that few, if any, new developments within Pike/Pine are especially equipped to dampen street noise from rattling inside units. With few affordable solutions and no regulatory mandates, there seems to be little incentive to equip units with high performance windows or soundproof insulation or to design the buildings to better serve the existing neighborhood. Continue reading

Sound Transit sets requirements, $30M+ price tag for prospective Capitol Hill Station developers

Just FYI, this is how Spain does transit plazas

Just FYI, this is how Spain does transit plazas public markets

CHStation-TOD-area-600x467-1What happens above ground at Capitol Hill Station will ultimately be just as important as the transit system serving thousands of passengers below. Another significant milestone has been reached in the process for Sound Transit to sell off its land around the Broadway station property to companies eager to meet the community’s transit oriented development needs. Here is the announcement from the Capitol Hill Champion community group assembled to represent the area’s residents, organizations, and businesses in establishing development requirements with Sound Transit and the City of Seattle for the properties:

Sound Transit has published its request for proposals (RFP) from bidding/short-listed developers for the Capitol Hill TOD sites.  The RFP includes site specific evaluation criteria, scoring for inclusion of community benefits, affordable housing tool, and an updated timeline. Links to the Sound Transit RFP documents can be found on our Resources page.

This marks another HUGE MILESTONE for the Capitol Hill community. BIG THANKS to the community for all of your hard work and support over the years!

We are still accepting responses to our 2014 Community Priorities Survey through 7/27.  Please take a few minutes to rate community priorities and answer developer’s questions to the community. The results will be included with our next correspondence to bidding developers and available on our website at the end of this month.

CHS reported here on a June meeting where the final roster of prospective developers made presentations about their work and vision for the sites.

The $1.8 billion light rail extension connecting downtown to the University of Washington under Capitol Hill is expected to open for service in 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 could add as many as 400 apartments to the site. More than a third will be built as affordable housing. Thousands of square feet of retail and a semi-public plaza that could be home to a farmers market and more are also part of the plans. Continue reading

Modera set to be sixth new building planned for three blocks of 11th Ave

(Images: Mill Creek Residential)

The design packet describes this as the “perspective view from Hothouse” (Images: Mill Creek Residential)

Plans for a sixth development project within a two and a half-block stretch of 11th Ave will move forward Wednesday night as the Modera building takes what will likely be its final bow in front of the East Design Review Board.

The project being developed by Mill Creek Residential and designed by Studio Meng Strazzara will create 135 units in a six-story building destined to replace the parking lot behind the Caffe Vita row of businesses and the old Winston apartment building home to Wildrose and Hothouse sauna. Don’t worry about the loss of one of the last of Pike/Pine’s parking lots. The building will have a massive underground parking facility with room for 124 cars and 40 bikes. And, yes, there will be 6,000+ square feet of commercial space ready to accommodate yet another addition to the Pike/Pine entertainment district.

The goal of it all, the developers say, is to create “a market-rate rental community” appealing “to a wide range of Capitol Hill neighborhood dwellers” –

The development will be designed in context with the distinguished character of the surrounding neighborhood in architectural elements, building scale, and massing. We are committed to using quality, long-lasting materials, and an aesthetic design that appeals to and blends with the neighborhood.

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Booming rental market has kept phones ringing at Tenants Union — Plenty of calls from Capitol Hill

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

As rents on Capitol Hill continue to rise at breakneck rates, so are complaints of landlords trying to displace the residents paying those rents. Jonathan Grant, executive director of the Tenants Union, told CHS that calls about rent increases have become the top issue on the organization’s tenant’s rights hotline.

“In the last three years we’ve seen rising rents and displacement becoming the number one issue in Seattle,” he said.
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Capitol Hill ‘Construction Hub’ designed to keep people moving through development wave

Living, walking, and doing business on Capitol Hill isn’t always easy amid the forest of construction cranes that sometimes feels like it has taken over the neighborhood. But the City of Seattle says it is working to coordinate construction project in key areas of the city, including Capitol Hill.

SDOT_Construction_Hubs_Boundary_Map4.8.14-1024x662SDOT’s Construction Hub Coordination Program was launched this spring to help keep residents and local businesses moving even with unprecedented numbers of construction projects underway in Seattle:

The hub team of project and on-site coordinators assess permitted construction holistically, across public and private lines, in areas with multiple simultaneous construction projects in close proximity—otherwise known as construction hubs.

Capitol Hill’s current hub boundaries are defined as a north-south rectangle from E Harrison to E Madison between Broadway and 15th Ave: Continue reading

Project 2014 artfully documents master plan to redevelop late-’90s Capitol Hill

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.20.11 AMCity Arts magazine art director and Hillebrity Dan Paulus “wanted to document, as accurately as possible, the change that has swept across” Capitol Hill in the decades he has lived here. Armed with a turn-of-the-millenium architect’s map of the neighborhood, Paulus set about creating Project 2013 2014:

So I spent a weekend riding my bike up and down every street—from I-5 to 15th Ave. E and E Roy St. to E Union St.—
noting any buildings that appeared to be from the early-’90s, any that I knew had been built in the past few years, and Proposed Land Use Actions for any future developments that were in the works. It was amazing to reconnect with and rediscover the neighborhood I thought I knew so well. (How long have those Hobbit cottages on the North end of Bellevue Ave. been there?)

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Project 2014 is a 22-year master plan aimed at transforming the face of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in a manner that would maximize financial potential by replacing structures deemed no longer conducive to the city’s long-term economic goals.

(Images: Project 2014)

(Images: Project 2014)

He writes about his alternate reality creation that reimagines the piecemeal redevelopment of the Hill as some sort of master plan and name-drops a few Capitol Hill haunts past here – Proposed Land Use Action. “To report errors or order your own print,” the article notes, “contact”

Sidewalk signs hyping Capitol Hill apartments hit with Independence Day weekend blackout tagging protest

A 15th Ave victim

A 15th Ave victim

 In the meantime, the Central District has taken anti-development angst into a much more creative direction.

In the meantime, the Central District has taken anti-development angst into a much more creative direction.

We don’t know exactly what set it off but somebody was busy with a spray can over the 4th of July weekend tagging a-frame sidewalk advertisements for various Capitol Hill apartment complexes from 19th Ave E to Pike/Pine.

This picture below from Twitter was claimed to show a tagger at work Sunday night.

With rents continuing to rise and City Hall so far powerless to do much to stem the tide, it’s possible the weekend’s blackout tagging was an angry response to the ongoing rise in the cost of Capitol Hill living. Or maybe whoever is responsible is a sidewalk muni code vigilante tired of what can be a cluttered pedestrian experience. Whatever the cause, the response was thorough if not elegant with apartments and condo buildings new and old included in the sweep.

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Was it you? Tell us why in comments, text or call (206) 399-5959 or tell us via email at

Hill’s rents continue to soar as Seattle delays affordable housing plan

E Denny Way's Pantages is featured in the city's report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

E Denny Way’s Pantages is featured in the city’s report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 8.16.20 PMHousing costs on Capitol Hill and throughout Seattle are reaching new heights as the most recent study showed average rents on the Hill have reached $1,557 a month. That’s up $162 from this time last year when CHS reported on soaring rents in 2013.

Escalating housing costs have created what many officials say is an affordable housing crisis in Seattle. In February, Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien said there was a “sense of urgency” to develop an affordable housing plan as soon as possible. “Every day the challenge is growing, people are struggling to survive,” O’Brien said.

At that time, O’Brien said the council would have an affordable housing plan by the end of this summer following the results of three studies. At a special committee meeting last week to review one of those studies, O’Brien said the plan would likely not coalesce until September and legislation would not reach the full council until 2015. Continue reading

Design board looks at Central District projects including ‘a missing tooth’ development

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 9.41.27 PMThe plan for a long-empty triangle the developer calls a “missing tooth” between Capitol Hill, the Central District and Madison Valley will take its first pass in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. It joins an affordable housing project that will replace a lot most recently used as a Jackson St. Nickelsville camp in an all-Central District edition of design reviews this week.

Madison Apartments
The empty wedge at 23rd and Madison will someday be home to a four-story, 53-unit apartment building above 1,700 square-feet of commercial space and parking for 11 vehicles. But for now there are only weeds and a chain-link fence alongside four-star neighbor, Crush.

Bought by Charles Waterman of Hamilton Urban Partners for nearly $2 million in 2007 from those savvy real estate investors at the City of Seattle, the land is planned to be home to the new Neiman Taber-designed apartment building. The developer calls the land “Capitol Hill” — Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Anhalt castle revived to past apartment glory


(Image: Public47)

After languishing for years as an abandoned office space, a 1930-built Capitol Hill apartment building is returning to its past glory as it welcomes back residential tenants for the first time since the 1960s. A year after construction got underway to gut and restore the Frederick Anhalt-designed building at 16th and E John, leasing is now underway at The Anhalt Historic.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.23.18 AMThat’s not to be confused with The Anhalt Modern, a new project rising from a parking lot of the older building’s parcel, slated to be finished by the end of the year.

Real estate investor Richard Leider, whose Trinity Real Estate company acquired the Anhalt in 2012, told CHS the two-building project would fill Capitol Hill’s divergent apartment desires.

“What we like to do is find buildings that need work, and this was a good example that could be put into use as residential, which it originally was,” he said. “But people like new, too.”


Inside The Anhalt Historic (Image: The Anhalt)

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