Here’s what comes next for Capitol Hill Station development

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.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-22-at-11.12.06-PM-600x406Sound 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

Lennar planning 405 units — and lots of commercial space — at 23rd and Union

New filings from Lennar Multifamily Communities indicate the developer is continuing to move forward with its plans to develop the Midtown Center, a block at 23rd and Union that many see as one of the last major development opportunities in Central Seattle. They also provide the first look at the exact scale of development being planned for the block —  a 405-unit, mixed-use project with nearly 500 parking spots:

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The new documents are part of a process to bring the project into Seattle’s design review process. No review has yet been scheduled.

In June, CHS broke the news on Lennar’s involvement with the 106,000-square-foot property once home to the U.S. Post Office and still busy with tenants including a liquor store and Earl’s Cuts. Company officials have not responded to requests for comment on the project. A representative from Encore Architects, the firm working with Lennar on the project told CHS the early site work was a preliminary study.

There is still no record of a sale for Midtown Center. A $23.5 million deal with another California-based developer, Legacy Partners, fell through earlier this year.

Prior to its 23rd and Union acquisition, Lennar had its sight set on another neighborhood-defining project when it submitted a proposal to develop the Capitol Hill Station “transit oriented development” sites on Broadway. Lennar is in the early stages of developing a mixed-use project at 22nd and E Madison. Meanwhile, the developer is building a 389-unit West Seattle project, The Whittaker, which will include a Whole Foods on the ground floor.

Review board kicks back early design for Madison Valley PCC development

Madison Valley residents can expect another early design guidance meeting and more opportunity to provide their input about a proposed four-story, multi-use development where City People’s Garden Store currently stands.

The East Design Review Board determined at a Wednesday meeting at Seattle University that work still needs to be done on the design options for the building, which is slated to house a PCC Natural Market, three residential floors, and two parking levels.

Floyd Ngono, with community group Save Madison Valley, said the project as designed will create a a development that “looms over” nearby residences.

But Wednesday’s decision kicks the project back to the drawing board.

“I do want to show appreciation to the architect team because they did provide incredibly generous setbacks,” said board member Natalie Gualy. “… So they have taken sensitive action.”

The review board noted blank walls on the building, landscaping, topography and sensitivity to neighboring single family homes as particular areas where it would like to see design changes. Continue reading

What the development set to replace City People’s will look like

E Madison looking northeast... to the future or, at least, beyond Madison Valley

E Madison looking northeast… to the future or, at least, beyond Madison Valley

The controversial project planned to replace much loved gardening store City People’s in Madison Valley will be on the design review docket Wednesday night. Expect some community pushback.

Here’s an excerpt from an “open letter” from the Save Madison Valley Group to the PCC grocery chain which is slated to open a store as the anchor tenant in the new development.

This building is misplaced because of its scale and scope, its impact on the area, and it is disrespectful of the community. It works only in so far as an attempt is being made to squeeze every possible dollar out of the property on the backs of the surrounding neighbors and the larger Madison Valley community.

“Why misplaced?,” you ask. They say: Continue reading

Capitol Hill height for sale: Developer of 95 Slide building buying right to build higher

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Here's what it would look like if they were forced to preserve 95 Slide

Here’s what it would look like if they were forced to preserve 95 Slide

Capitol Hill developers do not have to preserve the neighborhood’s oldest buildings to reap the construction benefits that come with that preservation — they can buy those perks, too, as Johnson Carr plans to do for its planned seven-story development at the corner of Pike and Harvard. Someday, you might call it the 95 Slide building. Kids will look at you like you’re old and crazy. That’s the Pike Flats building, old timer. The preservation perks without preservation plan will be on the table Wednesday night as the East Design Review Board takes what will likely be its final look at the project.

John Feit, chair of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, said transferring development rights is analogous to moving apples around from basket to basket. “Melrose Market paid for the ability to create an extra floor, they just didn’t,” said Feit. Instead, the developers of the Capitol Hill retail project are selling that right to Johnson Carr. Continue reading

Developers finally reach key milestone in Capitol Hill Station retail, housing project

Screen-Shot-2015-04-21-at-2.03.07-PM-600x7811-600x781Developers behind the retail and housing project that will surround Capitol Hill Station have reached a long awaited milestone towards starting construction.

CHS has learned that Gerding Edlen has signed an agreement with Sound Transit that lays out, among other things, the terms of a $25 million land lease for the project site along Broadway between E Denny Way and E John.

In March, a representative for the Portland-based developer told CHS the two sides were “really close” to signing a so-called term sheet. The preliminary agreement sets the terms for Gerding Edlen to lease three sites from Sound Transit and purchase the fourth, where Capitol Hill Housing will build an 86-unit affordable housing development.

“It took more than a year for them to negotiate the term sheet, in large part because structuring a lease instead of a purchase and sale proved complicated,” said Brie Gyncild of the Capitol Hill Champion, a community group that has worked for years to insert neighborhood priorities into the project.

Sound Transit has 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

Rooftop restaurant and ‘marketplace’ planned for 7-story Melrose/Pine development

unnamedIn a city that loves a good view, a seven-story high rooftop restaurant on the precipice of Capitol Hill overlooking downtown sounds like a no brainer. Connected to a ground floor “marketplace,” developers behind a planned project at Pine and Melrose are hoping to make a staggering addition to a burgeoning part of the neighborhood.

Plans from SolTerra developers call for a tiered mixed-used building to rise up where a parking lot now stands, and include 70 residential units, a top floor restaurant, and ground floor retail. A facade made of sloping terraces at Esker — a term for a ridge — are envisioned to give residents outdoor spaces with commanding views over downtown while dampening the roar of I-5 below.

“We want to take advantage of the views and Seattle doesn’t have a ton of rooftop hangout spots,” said SolTerra president Brian Heather. “Rather than just put this monolith there, we wanted something that would gracefully greet you as you come up the hill.”

For years, a parking lot at Pine and Melrose has served as the rather drab gateway to Capitol Hill from downtown. Continue reading

Demolition clears the way for Broadway Whole Foods and 16-story apartment building

Demolition season continues around Capitol Hill. Here is the apocalyptic scene currently underway where First Hill meets Capitol Hill and the 16-story Whole Foods mixed-use apartment building is slated to rise.

Crews have spent the week tearing down the 1928-built, three-story masonry medical building at the tri-corner of Harvard, Broadway, and Madison. They have plenty more to go. The work at the corner is heavy with the smell of mildewy dust and the satisfying thuds of large vehicles of destruction laying waste to decades-old infrastructure. Continue reading

Design reviews: 30 stories on First Hill, 6 off E Madison

Destined to rise above First Hill at 800 Columbia

Destined to rise above First Hill at 800 Columbia

Fans of skyscrapers will enjoy one part of the design reviews slated to come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. They might scoff at the other.

A 30-story residential tower destined for 8th and Columbia on First Hill will finish the night Wednesday but not before the board — and some concerned neighbors — have their say on a proposed project at 20th and Madison that is seeking a, gasp, contract rezone from the area’s 40-foot limit to a whopping 65 feet… hey, skyscraper folks, stop giggling. Continue reading

Mandatory Housing Affordability in Seattle? Sign us up

From the Mandatory Housing Affordability presentation planned to be part of Tuesday's committee meeting

From the Mandatory Housing Affordability presentation planned to be part of Tuesday’s committee meeting

Seattle affordable housing proponents — there seem to be more and more even if Capitol Hill rents aren’t exactly dropping — say legislation coming before the City Council’s planning committee starting Tuesday morning could be the key to unlocking the lion’s share of the 20,000 units of affordable housing Mayor Ed Murray has called for.

Mandatory Housing Affordability — part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain” — will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income — or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund.

Here is the call to arms from Brock Howell of Seattle for Everyone:

If passed, MHA would unlock 6,100 much needed affordable homes across Seattle – that’s fully 30% of the 20,000 affordable homes that Mayor Murray plans to build in the next 10 years through HALA and the Housing Levy. MHA leverages development of new, market-rate housing to fuel affordable homes – it’s the HALA model writ large, and it’s an incredible opportunity for the city to put roofs over the heads of more people who need them.

Howell and others are hoping the turnout at City Hall Tuesday morning is strong. If you aren’t planning to be in City Council chambers, the easier way to participate is to email the committee’s chair, Rob Johnson, at

Tuesday’s committee discussion and public hearing will build on the resolution passed last fall as the Council members consider the legislation to update the Seattle Municipal Code. Rezoning and upzones in certain key areas like 23rd and Union are also part of the proposal: Continue reading

How three projects used incentives to create E Pike’s ‘preservation’ row

Capitol Hill’s preservation incentivized construction projects are hard to miss, with their large iron braces supporting thin brick walls as seven or eight stories of shiny new development rise above. The merits of these projects and the preservation incentive program the helped create them have been debated since the rules were passed in 2009. Whether you think it pure facadism or a unique expression of a neighborhood in transition, preservation projects have come to represent the modern era of Capitol Hill development.

While the incentives have been tweaked over time, the conservation rules are based on a fairly straightforward premise: developers get potentially lucrative extra height and bulk bonuses for saving building facades or character structures in their projects. For preservation-minded developers like Hunters Capital, the incentives offered under the Pike/Pine Conservation District have made saving some of Capitol Hill’s auto-row past a feasible business decision.

“Density is going to happen in an area like Capitol Hill,” said Michael Oaksmith, development director at Hunters Capital. “Your alternative is to just crash down the entire building.”

13 of 22 projects within the conservation district have used the incentives since 2011. City Hall is currently preparing yet another update.The Pike/Pine Conservation District’s revised guidelines are currently available for review here. Three projects along three blocks of E Pike wrapping up construction and coming into the Capitol Hill rental market offer a good survey of the different forms the projects have taken:

  • AVA Capitol Hill, 600 E Pike — Avalon Bay
  • Pike Motorworks, 714 E Pike — Wolff Company
  • Dunn Motors, 501 E Pike — Hunters Capital

Continue reading

Have your say on Seattle U 12th and Madison development plans including 10-story dorm

"View West on Madison"

“View West on Madison”

As a “major institution,” Seattle University has to go about building things a little differently. Monday night brings what could be the last chance for the public to weigh in on the school’s plans for a new 10-story dorm and office building on E Madison and a transformation of the ground floor of the storage facility at 12th and Madison into the new home of the Seattle U campus book store.

Not subject to the design reviews typical of big development around Seattle, the school is, however, subject to an advisory committee’s approval of its plans. The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council is encouraging people interested in the Seattle U project to attend Monday, June 20th’s meeting of the Seattle University Standing Advisory Committee:

Monday, June 20th, 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, Stuart T Rolfe Room, Ground Floor to the left of the Main Entry

UPDATE: New Location —  1000 E James Way – Student Center conference room 210 **The Student Center is located on the Seattle University campus, where 11th Ave and E James Way would intersect**

This group advises the City of Seattle and Seattle University on issues related to the design and construction of new buildings and other projects proposed under the City-adopted Seattle University Master Plan.

“SU is proposing a major redevelopment of the site they own at the southwest corner of 12th and Madison,” the PPUNC announcement reads. “Scope includes the Public Storage Urban Self Storage Building as well as the parking lot immediately to its west. This type of project will not go through Design Review, so this is your chance to opine.” Continue reading