Six important things about the proposed affordability zoning changes on Capitol Hill

mha_draft_zoning_changes_first_hill_capitol_hill15% of Seattle is slated to be rezoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. The largest concentration of rezones includes a swath of land covering downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District.

Most of the area’s multifamily housing zones would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. That part of the program has already been approved by City Council. Over the next year the city will hammer out how to handle the zoning.

Much of the First Hill-Capitol Hill urban center residential zones would receive the one-story bump along with a requirement that all new development include 5-7% of affordable units. Some would be required to meet higher affordability mandates. But the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of details to sift through when it comes to the zoning maps on Capitol Hill.

1. Auto-row incentives (probably) maintained

The Pike/Pine Conservation District is a unique incentive zoning program in Seattle responsible for most of the auto-row preservation projects on Capitol Hill. Changes proposed under the HALA map appear to undercut the program, but a upcoming tweak to the building code would likely keep those incentives in play.

Under the preservation program, developers get to build seven stories instead of six for preserving an old building facade in Pike/Pine. In the proposed HALA map, an up-zone in Pike/Pine would automatically allow for seven-story buildings. While preserving a facade would still get developers a one extra story, it seems unlikely they would take it. Building codes mandate that any building higher than seven stories must be entirely concrete or steel framed instead of wood, making an eight-story project vastly more expensive. Continue reading

Africatown calls for Central District to ‘rewrite the script’ for future


Africatown CEO K. Wyking Garrett (Image: CHS)

Black Central District residents and business owners concerned about the gentrification of their neighborhood gathered on Monday to learn what the organization Africatown is doing to preserve and develop the historically black community.

Africatown CEO K. Wyking Garrett told the group he didn’t see himself in Seattle’s draft 2035 comprehensive plan, so the community needs to take action to make sure black people have a future in the city.

“We need to rewrite the script,” Garrett said.

Part of rewriting that script is for the community to take ownership of different construction and development projects in the Central District. Continue reading

What the proposed Town Hall towers will look like

What the proposed Town Hall apartment towers will look like

With Town Hall ready to undergo a major renovation of its own, the plan to transform its block of First Hill will move forward Wednesday night with a double-header design review for a set of twin 32-story apartment towers.

“The project proposes a notable amount of open space and landscaped area throughout site and along the right of way to enhance the urban fabric of the surrounding context,” Perkins+Will architects and developer Lennar write.

“The plaza will create a strong pedestrian connection to the adjacent entrance to Freeway Park. The design team and client have met and collaborated with Town Hall stakeholders to create a cohesive design that accommodates planned improvements for the historic Town Hall building.” Continue reading

11th Ave ‘streetscape’ tweaked as ‘final’ Value Village redevelopment and preservation designs pounded out

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-4-29-49-pmAfter years of shifting plans to meet the demands of city boards and community groups, architects behind the preservation development of the former Value Village building are honing in on the final vision for their office project.

On Monday, architects from Ankrom Moison presented their latest designs for the Kelly Springfield building to the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, including how designs have been tweaked to address concerns from their last East Design Review Board meeting this summer. Continue reading

Black Seattle 2035: How to get involved with the Liberty Bank Building

14520369_1217202578337650_3173024166505919646_nAt 24th and Union, the project to create the Liberty Bank Building is hoped to become a template for inclusive development in Seattle with a respect for history and the empowerment of the African American community. Monday night, you can learn more about the project and other developments being planned in the Central District:

Black Seattle 2035 – Imagine Africatown Update
Monday, October 17, 6 PM – 8 PM
Washington Hall 153 14th Ave, Seattle
Learn what’s happening with development projects to preserve and develop the Black community in the CD including and find out how you can plug in. Current project updates for:
*LIberty Bank Building*
*Firestation 6*
*Midtown Center*
*YK Building*

– Opportunities for Black Contractors and Workers
– Opportunities for Artists
– Sign up for Housing Opportunities in New Developments
– Commercial Space & Business Development Opportunities
– Assistance with Saving and Developing Properties in CD


CHS Pics | Turning apples into cider, City People’s enjoying one last fall in Madison Valley

As neighbors await the next round of design review for the four-story PCC mixed-use development destined to replace it, City People’s is heading into its final fall season in Madison Valley doing the kinds of things it has done to help connect Seattle to its dirt since its 1979 founding on Capitol Hill at 19th and Republican.

Sunday, CHS stopped by an old-fashioned cider pressing with a new-timey twist — the apples being squeezed were provided by City Fruit, the urban fruit gleaning community dedicated to putting the bounty of Seattle’s edible forests to good use. Visitors to City People’s got to help with the press and walked away with $5 growlers of fresh city apple cider. Continue reading

Why 20 Capitol Hill neighbors are opposing the mixed-use project at 19th and Mercer

The project at 19th and Mercer will replace a parking lot and green space while retaining an existing office building. (Images: Public47 Architects)

The project at 19th and Mercer will replace a parking lot and green space while retaining an existing office building. (Images: Public47 Architects)

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-6-20-08-pmTrouble for the planned mixed-use development at 19th and E Mercer started with plans to tear down a big, old cedar tree. Now, frustration over the city’s design review process has prompted 20 Capitol Hill neighbors to formally challenge the project’s design.

The lead appellant, nearby homeowner Dr. Suzanne Lasser, said the first major issue occurred in February when she realized the city’s design review website did not include many letters of concern submitted by neighbors months earlier.

Then, the following design review board meeting was held at a location Lasser said was not ADA accessible, preventing some members of the public from attending. Those that did attend the meeting were also advised not to comment on the size of the building, Lasser said, which several people wanted to discuss.

“We just felt like we weren’t heard as normal citizens in the design review process,” she said. Continue reading

109-year-old church slated for demolition on 14th Ave

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

The bell tower of 14th Ave’s Progressive Missionary Baptist Church is boarded up, shingles are missing from its roof, and bricks appear to be crumbling away from its walls. While lights were on outside the building this week, demolition plans for the church at the corner of 14th and Spring have been filed with the city. The corner’s future appears to be townhouses — 22, to be exact.

CHS briefly reached Rev. Curtis Taylor of the Word of God Church that owns the old house of worship by phone last week. He told us he couldn’t talk about the property now due to medical reasons. According to city documents, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has accepted the demolition application filed by Taylor last month. The project is under review and a permit has not yet been issued. Continue reading

As Hill’s Bullitt Center continues to stand alone, Seattle looks to open up Living Building program

We’re in the middle of a construction boom and the city is as green as they come but Seattle’s program designed to foster showcases of environmental best practices only has one true Living Building to show for it. But a new package of changes to city codes could result in more buildings like Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center finally sprouting up around Seattle.

“The large amount of construction we’re seeing in the city right now and strong commitment from not only builders and architects in the community… it’s surprising we haven’t seen more Living Buildings in the program,” City Council Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee chair Rob Johnson said last week as the group passed legislation hoped to kickstart the program.

Many of the proposed changes are technical adjustments to better align city laws with recent changes in state laws or to streamline city buildings codes. A few are also designed to make buildings more energy efficient generally, such as requiring high-efficiency heaters, or making buildings ready for solar panels.

But a number of them are designed to make Living Buildings like the Bullitt Center more feasible. Continue reading

Film festival explores Capitol Hill’s ‘rapid development and change’ in two minutes or less

A quick search through Craigslist will tell you how artists are getting priced out of Capitol Hill. Not so easily quantifiable is what effect that is having on artists and the neighborhood as a whole. A series of 2-minute dance films is seeking to shed some light on the subject.

Dance Film Challenge is a film festival on Capitol Hill about Capitol Hill sponsored by Capitol Hill arts institutions. The challenge: Teams submit two-minute dance films “reflecting the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the crossroads that Capitol Hill artists, communities and residents are facing in this period of rapid development and change.” Winners selected by the audience will be given a one month residency at the V2 temporary art space on 11th Ave. Ten submissions will be screened Thursday at Northwest Film Forum. Continue reading

HALA map: Broadway, area around Capitol Hill Station part of affordability plan’s proposal for taller buildings

325582184-mha-draft-rezone-mapping-11x17_capitolhill_firsthillThe mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability committee has released a preview of maps detailing proposed zoning changes across Seattle coming as part of the effort to link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development in a legislative process expected to play out over the next two years. Included in the preview of the planned October release is a map detailing proposals for changes around First Hill and Capitol Hill including raising allowed heights by another story along Broadway and a new “midrise” designation in the area around Capitol Hill Station currently limited to three-story “lowrise” buildings.

The HALA announcement on the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability zoning says the full package of proposals, shaped and vetted by stakeholder groups organized by the city, is expected to be released in October.

Based on our MHA Principles, we have maps illustrating a first draft of zoning changes in five example urban villages: South Park, Othello, First Hill-Capitol Hill, Aurora-Licton Springs, and Crown Hill. This first draft is intended to solicit your feedback and ideas for improving the zoning changes that will implement MHA affordable housing requirements. In October 2016, a full citywide draft zoning map will be available.

The full set of preview maps — and an easier to read view of the Capitol Hill map — is below. Continue reading

Design review: What Vulcan’s first Broadway project will look like, plus small efficiency dwelling units on 10th Ave E

Vulcan's Block 3 plan for Broadway at Yesler might finally justify the First Hill Streetcar

Vulcan’s Block 3 plan for Broadway at Yesler might finally justify the First Hill Streetcar

While Wednesday night’s review sessions will include one half of real estate giant Vulcan’s development plans for both sides of Broadway at Yesler and a review of a Central District project the review board was worried about being shoehorned into a residential area, the bigger design review decisions of the week won’t happen at a public meeting. More on Vulcan’s 120 Broadway development and a rowhouse project from Isola Homes at 18th and Spruce, below. But first, let’s stop by the squabble on 10th Ave E just past the curve from Broadway where neighbors aren’t happy about a planned five-story, “small efficiency dwelling unit” apartment building being lined up to rise above the lot currently home to a 1930s-built single family house.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-3-00-43-pmMcKee 10th
Though it will create a five-story building with 18 small units and one regular old “apartment”-style unit, the McKee 10th microhousing development being planned for 714 10th Ave E isn’t large enough to trigger a full design review. Instead, its “streamlined” review process wraps Friday without the full package of 90-minute meetings and a lineup of public comment by neighbors objecting to the bulk and scale of the project. But you can still have your say — here are some of the comments from letters sent to the city about the project: Continue reading