Only four firms left in bid to build Capitol Hill Station housing+retail sites

And then there were four. Following one bidder’s public drop from the running to develop the Capitol Hill Station housing and commercial sites, CHS has learned five other firms have also pulled out of the project. The Wolff Company decided not to submit a final proposal earlier this month, citing uncertainty around ownership and retail constraints leaving just four developers in the running to build all or part of the 100,000 square feet “transit oriented development” that will include housing, commercial, and a community spaces:

Capitol Hill Housing – Site B North

Gerding Edlen – Master developer for all sites

Jonathan Rose Companies/Capitol Hill Housing – Master developer for all sites

Lowe Enterprises – Sites A, B-South, and C

Dropped out of the race are The Wolff Company which had been pondering joining the competition for Site A, MacFarlane Partners which was making plans around a master developer role, Lennar Multifamily which dropped from Site B-South and Site C competition, Belwether Housing which cleared out of the Site B-North run, and Security Properties which dropped its bid for Site A.

The list of remaining bidders was the second part of CHS’s request to Sound Transit to obtain copies of the firm’s actual proposals. Sound Transit eventually denied the request. In an email to CHS, Sound Transit’s senior legal counsel Loren Armstrong explained why the proposals are exempt from public disclosure.

“This procurement is slightly different from a typical request for proposals,” she said. “Specifically, the submission and evaluation of proposals in this procurement is the first step in a process that for each parcel will culminate with the negotiation and execution of a unique purchase and sale agreement, with terms that are not yet defined.”

Sound Transit is expected to pick its developer(s) by January, at which time we should have some fresh project renderings in addition to details on how the project will take shape. Appraisals have placed the value of the Sound Transit properties at a combined $25 million. Continue reading

There’s a better use for this: The marquee lights up at 12th Ave Arts

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_0916UPDATE: With speeches from a stage full of the movers and shakers who made the project happen, artists, and city and state officials, 12th Ave Arts opened its doors Thursday night.

Calling the project a new “center of community life” for Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill Housing CEO Chris Persons thanked the more than 200 capital donors who made the project possible and made way for a long roster of speakers there to introduce the project to the neighborhood. Rep. Frank Chopp got the audience on its feet to applaud “the Seattle spirit” and christened the largest of the two theater spaces in the facility with its first performance — his reading of the James Oppenheim poem Bread and Roses. The dignitaries even threw a few lines to the theater folk. Strawberry Workshop’s Greg Carter said he was ready to get to work in a building emblematic of Capitol Hill — a neighborhood with an environment open to creating “things that don’t make sense.” Continue reading

Sweatbox trying to hang in until Pike/Pine development means new customers, not torn up streets


(Images: Sweatbox)

10542681_4272840075181_1655506004600303129_oCapitol Hill’s Sweatbox, one of the first purveyors of Bikram Yoga in Seattle, is in a fight for its life to survive years of 10th Ave construction. Thousands of new residents — and potential yoga students — are coming to Pike/Pine. The studio’s Laura Culberg is doing everything she can to hold the pose until they get here.

“We’re just trying to get a breath,” Culberg told CHS.

Culberg said that ongoing construction and torn up streets for infrastructure upgrades to support new Pike/Pine developments have severely damaged Sweatbox’s Capitol Hill business. It’s a similar situation at the other businesses on 10th and 11th just south of E Pike though the likes of Neumos have so far weathered the challenges. There is no public mitigation money for the private projects necessitating the work. Instead, Culberg said she was forced to file a claim with the city asking for more than $11,000 for lost business — one life raft she has been hoping for to help Sweatbox survive the ongoing lean times.

But in the course of reporting this story, CHS had the sorry business of informing Culberg that the city had rejected her claim. Continue reading

City Hall’s affordable housing committee puts Capitol Hill demographics in its sights

Starting this week, the mayor-appointed group tasked with producing an affordable housing plan for Seattle by May 2015 is digging in with a series of public meetings.

While past city efforts to create more affordable housing have targeted Seattle’s poorest, City Hall officials say the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee will be considering a much wider band Seattle residents — a band that should include many on Capitol Hill.

Yes, even you.

In the lead-up to forming the committee, Mayor Ed Murray invoked the need to support longtime residents and those who choose, and may one day choose, to make Seattle home. In other words, working stiffs trying to eek it out in increasingly expensive neighborhoods.

Here’s a look at the income levels for one and two person households that the committee will be targeting:

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 3.49.49 PM

On Thursday some of the 28 committee members will be at the Garfield Community Center for a public meeting to hear what you want and need from a plan. The mayor won’t be making an appearance. Continue reading

Development notes: Design reviews, 12th Ave Arts grand opening

The Reverb

The Reverb

  • Design reviews: No CHS write-ups but Wednesday night brings two more projects in front of the design review board —
    • 1023 E. Alder St: One third of the Spectrum developments along 12th Ave near Yesler Terrace, the Reverb takes the final step in the review process Wednesday night.
    • 215 Boylston Ave E: This infill project will bring 25 units to Boylston just north of E John.
  • The 12th Ave Arts grand opening is Thursday, November 20th

    The 12th Ave Arts grand opening is Thursday, November 20th

    12th Ave Arts: The Capitol Hill Housing development transforming the former East Precinct parking lot into affordable apartments, theater space, restaurants, and office space will celebrate with a grand opening Thursday night. The event’s tours are reportedly already RSVP’s up — but go for it, we say.

  • Sunset Electric kudos: The preservation-friendly Sunset Electric development is now award winning:
    NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association has recognized The Wolff Company’s Sunset Electric building on Capitol Hill in Seattle as its mid- rise multifamily development of the year. The prestigious award comes on the heels of the building’s recent LEED Platinum certification for efficiency and environmental responsibility.
    CHS wrote about the Weber Thompson-designed mixed-use project here following its opening earlier this year.

Pro-density group loses challenge to zoning adjustments to shrink building size


This 5-story microhousing development in a Lowrise 3 zone at 11th and Republican is the type of development new zoning rules would attempt to restrict. (Photo: CHS)

A city arbitrator has rejected a pro-density group’s appeal of zoning code changes that seek to scale back the size of new housing projects, including future microhousing and townhouse developments around Capitol Hill. The decision paves the way for the “down-zone” in Lowrise 3 areas to go to the City Council for a vote.

In October, the Seattle Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal from the developer-backed group Smart Growth Seattle, which argued the new adjustments ignore increasing demands for development in the city. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Value Village building — auto row-era home of Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company — considered for Seattle landmark protection

The building in 1937

The building in 1937

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.40.15 PMMaybe this one will be different. The 11th Ave auto row-era home to Value Village and lined up to be part of a massive, mixed-use office and retail development is slated to come before the Seattle Landmarks Review Board this week.

Dubbed the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building for its first tenant after construction in 1917, the property will be weighed against six “designation standards” in a hearing Wednesday afternoon to determine if it worthy of moving to the nomination round of the process. Public comment is part of the hearing.

CHS asked developer Legacy Commercial about the landmark application but a representative did not reply with comment. UPDATE: A Legacy spokesperson tells CHS the company’s hopes are for the board to determine the property is not a landmark:

Legacy elected to be proactive in addressing the City’s request for the Landmark’s Board to review the site, to provide additional clarity during the planning process. The review is an important component of working in the Pike Pine Triangle. However, we are hoping that the site is not determined to be a landmark to provide us the opportunity to realize our vision and the neighborhood’s vision for the block.

The hearing comes amid increasing recognition of the economic and cultural value of preserving older buildings intact in neighborhoods like Pike/Pine where a “conservation overlay” provides incentives to developers for including the components of historic buildings in modern structures. The auto row building is planned to join the neighboring White Motor Company building at 11th and Pine — currently home to The Stranger and the Rhino Room — as part of a development taking advantage of these incentives to create a 75-foot tall office building above street-level commercial space.

The landmark nomination is a required part of the development process and, if designated, won’t necessarily rule the old building out for redevelopment. Even so, the odds aren’t in favor of the building making the cut. Recent Capitol Hill properties falling short of the board’s protection include The Pinevue Apartments building and 11th Ave’s Hugo House.

Continue reading

‘Don’t let the coolness of a neighborhood kill itself’

Mike Powe’s message is probably coming a bit too late for the taste of many Capitol Hill residents.

“Don’t let the coolness of a neighborhood kill itself,” Powe said, speaking November 7th inside Pike/Pine’s Odd Fellows building to a gathering of about 30 members of the Cascadia Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism, a group that among other things, advocates for denser, more walkable communities.

Powe is a research manager for the Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Seattle based arm of the nationwide group. He delivered a keynote speech based on his group’s report about the value of older, smaller buildings in supporting a dynamic neighborhood. Continue reading

Doubling down in the Central District, developer plans another apartment project at 23rd and Union

In 2010, things seemed bleak at 23rd and Union as even the gas station temporarily shuttered (Image: CHS)

In 2010, things seemed bleak at 23rd and Union as even the gas station temporarily shuttered (Image: CHS)

The new project on the northwest corner will join this Lake Union Partners apartment project on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union

The new project on the northwest corner will join this Lake Union Partners apartment project on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union

Last spring, change dug in at 23rd and Union as work finally began on a long-planned, six-story apartment and retail project on the intersection’s southwest corner. Now, change at the corner is rising higher. A developer already busy in the Central District is doubling down on redeveloping the blocks around the intersection with a $4.1 million-plus purchase of land currently home to a gas station and Cappy’s Gym.

Permits detail Lake Union Partners plans to build a 160,000 square-foot,146-unit apartment building with underground parking for 120 vehicles on the site. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Redwood is closing in 2015. Again.

(Image: Rob Ketcherside via Flickr)

(Image: Rob Ketcherside via Flickr)

In 2012, CHS reported that the owners at the Redwood, the beloved E Howell hovel, were already marking the days until the bar has to make way for future development. Back then, they had four more years to go. With one year to go, one of the new writers at The Stranger tells us why we should care:

Because the Redwood isn’t just another bar that couldn’t hack it on the hill. It’s a founding father of the Hill’s current bar scene. It opened nine long years ago—practically a century as far as bars on the Hill go—when the original Cha Cha, along with the Bus Stop, Pony, and Kincora were forced out by a developer’s purchase of the block between Belmont and Summit on Pine. Redwood’s owners took advantage of the void created in the bar scene, along with a good bit of notoriety stemming from the fact that their opening bar staff was composed of members of the now-insanely-famous Band of Horses, to create a thriving business.

A year is a long time. Plenty of months for somebody else to report the Redwood is closing. To put in perspective, after the Redwood closes, you’ll still have to wait 2.5 years for the Broadway Whole Foods to open.

In the meantime, Capitol Hill’s list of limbo businesses and venues is relatively thin right now. We doubt many will be nostalgic for one last visit to this longtime 15th Ave E credit union. The Electric Tea Garden hasn’t been reborn yet but could eventually provide another ticking clock of development doom. How about one last wait in line at the Broadway post office? There is one more project with plenty of limbo around it, however. Make sure to do some shopping at the 11th Ave Value Village and drop in to party at the Rhino Room before this Pike/Pine office project eventually digs in. And, yeah, the Stranger will eventually need to make way for that same project.

Capitol Hill infill fills in with seven stories on Boylston, four off Broadway

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 3.15.31 PM

The “site analysis” for the 1404 Boylston project is AWESOME and worth clicking to see a larger version (Image: S+H Works)

It will be a real-world lesson in neighborhood infill development — and the work of E Pike-based architect Hugh Schaeffer — as the East Design Review Board gathers Wednesday night to assess two proposed development projects that will create another 140 or so apartments on Capitol Hill in exchange for one two 1900s-built single family homes and a 1905-built, 8-unit apartment house.

(Image: S+H Works)

Coming soon to Boylston just off E Pike — seven stories (Image: S+H Works)

1404 Boylston
On Boylston just off E Pike, the Emerald City Manor building has provided a place to live on Capitol Hill since 1905. Today’s Hill calls for a bigger solution.

Planned as a seven-story affordable apartment building with 105 units that will replace the old manor, the developers of the Boylston Flats project promise some lofty goals –including helping to connect Capitol Hill to First Hill: Continue reading

Meet the Harvard Ave Neighbors mounting a fight against microhousing

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.27.05 PM

This probably isn't the first Capitol Hill triplex you'd choose to start a legal battle over (Image: King County records)

This probably isn’t the first Capitol Hill triplex you’d choose to start a legal battle over (Image: King County records)

Lawyers and money: neighborhood activists in Capitol Hill are deploying a classic arsenal in their fight against local microhousing. At issue is how to count the number of units in a microhousing building and, as a consequence, whether a proposed project at 741 Harvard Ave E. is subject to design review. In the wake of a summer ruling that effectively stopped the project — and others like it — the Harvard developers are fighting back with an appeal that could put the development back in motion.

To keep that from happening, the Harvard Ave Neighbors group has lawyered-up to prevent the project from skipping the review process.

Organizer Larry Nicholas says at question is whether wealthy developers with “an unending amount of money to throw at a project” are subject to the same laws as everyone else. Continue reading

Construction delays push back ambitious Pike/Pine marketplace + office space Chophouse Row to early 2015

We found Dunn, center, in a hard hat this summer (Image: CHS)

We found Dunn, center, in a hard hat this summer (Image: CHS)

Chophouse Row, right, will inject some 27,000 square feet of commercial space into  Pike/Pine

Chophouse Row, right, will inject some 27,000 square feet of commercial space into Pike/Pine

You’ll have to wait a few more months for the ambitious Pike/Pine marketplace, mews, and office space development Chophouse Row.

Developer Liz Dunn tells CHS that construction delays and issues with street work in the area have pushed the project back from its planned fall 2014 opening to a debut in early 2015.

Leasing materials for Chophouse Row now advertise a February 2015 move-in target. Continue reading