Union members throw support behind Central Co-op’s Capitol Hill Station bid

DSC02980Somebody hand you a banana at Capitol Hill Station? They’re part of the #coopthestation campaign to help the E Madison-headquartered Central Co-op win its bid to be the anchor grocery store at the 85-foot development slated to rise around the Broadway light rail station where empty pavement sits today.

Now, a group of members from UCFW 21 — “the largest private sector union in Washington State” and representative for Central Co-op’s nearly 100 unionized employees — have sent an “open letter” to Gerding Edlen partner Jill Sherman calling on the developer to “do better by local workers and choose a union grocer where workers have a voice on the job, and earn a living wage.”

The full letter is below. Central Co-op, by the way, is a CHS advertiser.

Labor groups and District 3 rep Kshama Sawant have already come out swinging against Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen’s consideration of Portland-based grocery chain New Seasons for the light rail project. Continue reading

Expanded list of seismically risky buildings could spur a new development wave on Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS/Data Source: City of Seattle)

(Image: CHS/Data Source: City of Seattle)

The City of Seattle has added some 300 buildings to its list of old brick structures most at risk of damage or collapse in the event of a major earthquake. Among the 1,160 “unreinforced masonry structures” counted in a recent report, Capitol Hill continues to have the most of any neighborhood in the city.

The latest URM survey added 16 Capitol Hill structures to the city’s 2012 list, bringing the neighborhood’s total count to 152 URM buildings — 13% of all URMs in Seattle. 44 were counted on First Hill and 24 were counted in the Central Area/Squire ParkScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.39.07 PM

Property owners with buildings on the list began receiving notifications this month from Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections. No immediate action is required, but it may be in the future.

Finalizing the inventory of URMs is an important step in the city’s goal to one day mandate all URMs undergo seismic retrofitting. Currently, property owners are only required to retrofit URMs when there is a major upgrade or change of use of their building. The city has been working on a mandate for years and the City Council is not expected to consider legislation until 2017.

The report found the vast majority of Capitol Hill’s URMs had no evidence of retrofitting, although it is possible some work was overlooked. Owners have an opportunity to challenge the URM designation or offer additional information, but they will need to hire an engineer to perform an in-depth analysis of the the building, according to the report.

That could kick off another round of Capitol Hill preservation developments and demolitions. Earthquake prevention work can be an enormously expensive, especially for individual owners who may deicide to sell in the face of such costs. It happened before at the Callahan Auto building and many fear a retrofit mandate would put many businesses and independent property owners in jeopardy. By using preservation incentives, DCI says it wants to save as many buildings as possible.

“The last thing we want to do is to encourage people to demolish these structures,” said DCI spokesperson Bryan Stevens. “Generally speaking, I think people want to see these structures preserved.” Continue reading

Central Co-op wants to be center of Capitol Hill Station development

New development will rise to 85 feet along Broadway -- a grocery store will be at the center of the mixed-use project. Will Central Co-op fill the space? (Image: CHS)

New development will rise to 85 feet along Broadway — a grocery store will be at the center of the mixed-use project. Will Central Co-op fill the space? (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s homegrown food cooperative wants to return to its roots by doubling down in the the neighborhood with a new store in Capitol Hill’s future gateway development on Broadway.

Central Co-op announced Sunday night it is pursuing the anchor tenant space in the Capitol Hill Station “transit orientated development” — the four-site, mixed-use project that will surround the recently opened subway station. The yet-to-be-built building it could call home along Broadway between John and Denny is just two blocks from where the grocer got its start on 12th Ave in 1978.

“We are the only grocer that was born and raised in this neighborhood, and that means something,” said Central Co-op chief Dan Arnett.

Arnett tells CHS he has already pitched the idea to developer Gerding Edlen. The co-op says it has no plans to close its 16th and E Madison location, where it recently signed a longterm lease.

Central Co-op’s expansion aspirations were announced after it came out that Portland-based New Seasons Market was an early frontrunner to take over the anchor space. A Gerding representative told CHS they were in talks with New Seasons, but the company has not made any final decisions on a tenant. Continue reading

Developers announce PCC Natural Markets to anchor mixed-use set to replace City People’s

(Image: Velmeir/Studio Meng Strazzara)

(Image: Velmeir/Studio Meng Strazzara)

Velmeir, the Michigan-based “full service commercial retail development company” poised to purchase the longtime Madison Valley home of City People’s to develop a new mixed-use building on the property has announced that Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets will anchor the project:

The Velmeir Companies today announced that PCC Natural Markets (PCC) will anchor a proposed new mixed-use development in Madison Valley. PCC, the country’s largest member-owned natural foods market, will occupy 25,000 square feet in the new building. The project will include 75 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments above the grocer and an underground parking garage.

Developers are slated to start construction at the beginning of 2017 with PCC opening in early 2018. While PCC will occupy most of the building’s ground-level retail space, there is a small, 2,000-square-foot space that may be used for a cafe-style business. The project’s 75 residential units will likely be market-rate, though a spokesperson for Velmeir said the company would “explore options” for including affordable housing using Seattle’s tax incentive program. The underground parking garage is slated to have 157 spaces — 81 for residents and 76 for retail.

Early designs call for some portions of the development to go to three stories while other portions will rise to four stories in response to existing zoning on the block. Developers are not planning to ask for a departure from the zoning heights, a spokesperson said, and are proposing wider setbacks from the sidewalk than those currently required.

PCC CEO Cate Hardy told CHS the co-op was drawn to the location by the surrounding neighborhood’s high demand for sustainable, organic food. “Madison Valley is definitely at the hub of a lot of neighborhoods that our concept resonates with,” Hardy said.

Hardy told CHS the Madison Valley location will be similar in concept to the Columbia City market. Prepared grab-and-go foods account for a significant portion of PCC’s business and will be part of the Madison Valley market. The mix of food stations has not yet been solidified, but Hardy said PCC’s pizza and taqueria stations are likely to included.

CHS broke the news in March that the garden store and nursery was preparing to close by the end of the year as City People’s founders planned to sell the property. “We had high hopes for the business, and we also hoped that many years hence our investment might become the cornerstone of our retirement. As we now know, the gamble paid off,” the owners said in an announcement on the plans.

The PCC announcement comes as opposition to the planned development has taken the shape of a new Save Madison Valley group. The group met earlier this month to discuss the development.

Continue reading

Buy or move? Lambert House faces $2M decision on Capitol Hill home

A Capitol Hill LGBTQ youth nonprofit needs around $2 million to keep its 35-year home. It likely says a lot about the strength of the Lambert House that the news about its 15th Ave home brings a confident statement about its future — not a panicked cry for help. The response also says a lot about what it is like to run a successful nonprofit on Capitol Hill as the waves of development continue.

“The planned sale of the property comes at a time when Lambert House was considering the possibility of expanding our space,” writes Lambert executive director Ken Shulman in an announcement about the situation.

“It also coincides with the redevelopment of many properties on Capitol Hill, and elsewhere in Seattle, as land values have skyrocketed and older buildings are being razed to make way for denser and more profitable use.” Continue reading

Seattle U announces plans for 10 stories of office and dorms on E Madison

In a move doubly important to boosting the private school’s ability to attract students, Seattle University is moving ahead with a plan to construct a new 10-story building on the northern edge of the campus, the school’s president announced last week.

Seattle U president Stephen Sundborg announced the project last week as part of a letter broadly outlining a review of the school’s business and operations that has been underway for “the last several months across the non-academic parts of the university.” CHS reported in late 2014 on spending cuts at the Jesuit Catholic university and a budget shortfall after enrollment failed to meet the school’s goals.

The combined new Enrollment Services building and dorms might not be great for studying. The Pike/Pine entertainment and nightlife district will be within view just across E Madison — at least until more six and seven-story developments rise there. But the project will address the needs of one of its most important divisions as the school faces ongoing competition to attract new students.

“I called for this review because I recognize that the environment of higher education is changing and increasingly challenging, and, in this context, it is important and healthy for an organization to take time to look closely at itself, examine how it can become more effective, and better understand how it can thrive and best fulfill its mission amid these changes,” Sundborg wrote about the review. Continue reading

Central District’s affordable Liberty Bank Building gets $13M boost

The Liberty Bank Building still needs to go through design review — here’s a look at the three latest projects around 23rd and Union

Mayor Ed Murray’s administration has put its money where its mouth is in hopes that a Central District affordable housing project will become a model development in Seattle. The non-profit developers of the Liberty Bank Building will receive $12.2 million in funding from the city’s Office of Housing and $1 Million from the State of Washington for the mixed-use project at 24th and Union.

Capitol Hill Housing plans to use the Seattle Housing Levy funds to help build 115 units affordable to individuals and families earning $18,000 to $54,000 a year. CHH also has plans to incorporate local businesses into the project and to honor the site’s historical importance as the home of the region’s first black-owned bank. A community-based advisory board is helping steer the effort.

Construction isn’t planned to start until mid-2017 but the old Liberty Bank building came tumbling down in October. Environmental remediation is now underway at the site that was once home to a gas station. Continue reading

What the Piecora’s building will look like

ViEW TOWARDS SOUTHEASTAfter cruising through the first review of the project’s basic bulk and scale last summer, development giant Equity Residential has unveiled the architectural vision for the mixed-used apartment building that will fill in the empty lot where Piecora’s Pizza once stood at 14th and Madison. It’s been two years since CHS broke the news on the $10.3 million deal.

VIEW TOWARDS corner of 14th & madisonHere is how Equity and architects Ankrom Moisan describe the six-story project with 137 market-rate units averaging 606 square feet, 3,8000 square feet of commercial space, and underground parking for 81 vehicles:

To allow for the strongest, most viable retail, we propose a highly transparent commercial street front along 14th and Madison. The proposed retail entry/entries will mainly be along 14th or at the building corner due to the grade change along Madison. The proposed residential entry is along E Pike, allowing for some visual and physical separation from vehicle-oriented Madison. The residential entry will be setback from the property line to help with the slight grade change (+/- 4’) along E. Pike. As the grade steps up along Madison (+/- 10’), a landscape buffer is proposed to help with the transition from retail to residential uses.

Continue reading

‘Undervalued’ — $23.5M sale of 23rd and Union block mired in family legal fight

Midtown Sale - 2 of 3The sale and development of a critically important Central District block has been tied up by a family squabble over millions of dollars and the African American history of the neighborhood, court documents reveal.

According to the documents, a $23.5 million offer to buy the Midtown Center property on the southeast corner of 23rd and Union has been in place since late last year but a lawsuit by longtime property manager Tom Bangasser against his family’s partnership that owns the land has troubled the transaction.

Last year, Bangasser’s siblings voted to remove him as controlling member of Midtown Limited Partnership, prompting Bangasser to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for his for his decades of managing the property for the family. He told CHS his siblings had grown impatient with his vision to transfer ownership of the property to a land trust that would come under community control.

“There is a difference of opinion in what the exit strategy should be,” he said. “I’m a believer that the neighborhood should own the property.” His siblings essentially agreed — about the disagreement: Continue reading

Seattle’s other big 2016 decision: the new housing levy

Saturday, Washington took a big step toward helping define the nations’s most important political campaign of 2016. In August, Seattle’s largest political question will be answered. With Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to renew and expand Seattle’s longstanding housing levy already rolled out, the campaign to get the measure on the August primary ballot is underway.

But first: legislative process. The levy first has to go through the City Council and get approved to get put before voters in the fall. The council committee on affordable housing, neighborhoods, and finance began to pick through the mayor’s levy proposal last week. The committee will, after debate and any wanted changes, send the package to full council for a vote on whether or not to put it on the ballot—ideally by late April or early May. A full presentation from Thursday’s session is embedded at the end of this post.

A steering committee will be formed in in late April or May after the council vote and fundraising and official campaign outreach efforts will start then.

Former council president and current chair of the housing committee, Tim Burgess said that—judging from conversations with his council colleagues—he doesn’t anticipate any major changes to be made to Murray’s proposal. “I would be very surprised if the council changed the core essence of the levy,” Burgess told CHS last week. “I think generally it has been well received.”

The levy itself is widely regarded as the backbone of affordable housing development in Seattle. When asked what would happen to the city’s efforts to house the bottom end of Seattle’s economic spectrum if the levy doesn’t get renewed, Marty Kooistra, executive director of the Housing Development Consortium, an association of nonprofit affordable housing developers and architects grimly said, “don’t even go there.” Continue reading