$1B Washington State Convention Center expansion means big changes across I-5

One concept for the center's expansion (Image: LMN Architects)

One concept for the center’s expansion (Image: LMN Architects)

There is a $1 billion plan afoot that will radically transform the connection between Capitol Hill and downtown. Tuesday night, a public process begins to shape the massive expansion of the Washington State Convention Center:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.06.06 AM

The quadrilateral area above is the planned home for the expanded center (Image: WSCC)

The quadrilateral area above is the planned home for the expanded center (Image: WSCC)

Powered by its bonding authority, the WSCC has already acquired $56.5 million worth of land between 9th and Boren, and Howell and Olive Way that is today home to a Honda dealership. King County’s transit center block is also on the WSCC’s acquisition target list.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports the total cost of the project is expected to reach $1 billion. The center hopes to begin construction by 2017. Continue reading

Does Capitol Hill need a new group to press developers to meet community priorities?

"No, it's too expensive" (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

“No, it’s too expensive” (Image: evil robot 6 via Flickr)

Last month, developers behind the project that will rise at the old Piecora’s site made an appearance at a Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting. They weren’t there to defend design sketches, rather the Equity Residential team said they wanted feedback while architects were still at the drawing board.

P/PUNC’s mix of development professionals and community members offered specific examples of popular and unpopular corner-property developments in the area and used wonky terms to push for safer building designs.

The following night at the annual State of the Hill event, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells said another group’s work on the upcoming light rail station development marked a major neighborhood accomplishment. Capitol Hill Champion members worked for years forging a document of community priorities that the project’s developers will be required to follow when work starts this year.

Capitol Hill’s development boom has given rise to a small but increasingly persuasive group of community members pressing developers to build what they see as more neighborhood-appropriate projects. Early plans are now in the works to sustain the momentum by creating a Capitol Hill group modeled off the Central Area Land Use Committee. Continue reading

Broadway Whole Foods and apartment development begins design review this week

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

We showed you what the Broadway Whole Foods building will look like the minute we got our hands on the plans back in February. This week brings the first public test of the design proposal to create a 16-story, 288-unit, mixed-use development with parking for around 350 cars at the corner of Madison and Broadway where Capitol Hill and First Hill with its high-er-rise zoning meet.

The early design guidance for the Columbia Pacific Advisors development designed by Tiscareno Associates is Wednesday night:

1001 Broadway/Design Proposal (84 MB)
Review Meeting: March 4, 6:30 pm
Seattle University
1016 E. Marion St
PIGT Room #304
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3019050 permit status | notice
Planner: Lindsay King

The project will include a two-level 40,000 square-foot street-level “urban grocery” from the Texas-based chain of markets “specializing” in organic food. The project is targeted for a late 2017 to early 2018 opening and will replace the 1928-built, three-story masonry medical building currently at the site.

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Whole Foods has cited the coming First Hill Streetcar line and proximity to First Hill’s hospitals and nearby Seattle University as important factors in choosing the Broadway and Madison location.

We’ve embedded the full design proposal, below. Continue reading

‘A short path to more affordable housing,’ Seattle finalizing plan for homeless encampments

This map shows where in the city the encampments could be allowed. Amendments to be discussed next week could change some of the restrictions (Image: Seattle.gov)

This map shows where in the city the encampments could be allowed. Amendments to be discussed next week could change some of the restrictions (Image: Seattle.gov)

A plan that would regulate tent encampments in Seattle in a program creating space for 300 homeless residents received lots of support and lots of suggestions for fine tuning during a public hearing on the legislation Thursday at City Hall. Many of the speakers had first-hand experience with living in Seattle without a home.

“We know that homeless people are turned away each night because the shelters are full,” Real Change vendor Willie Jones said during the public comment period on the legislation. “We know because it has happened to each of us.”

The plan championed by Mayor Ed Murray’s office would change Seattle law to allow three homeless encampments on city or private land in non-residential areas. Many speakers Thursday night spoke out about the “red-lining” in the bill that would restrict the camps from the city’s residential areas. An amendment from Council member Kshama Sawant to be discussed at the next committee meeting on the legislation seeks to address the issue.

onc15-chartIn the meantime, churches would be allowed to continue to offer space to encampments like Tent City’s stays at St. Mark’s or St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill.

The most significant tent encampments in Seattle have been the Nickelsville projects that have moved around the city as land was available for the facilities. At one point in 2013, there were three different Nickelsville camps in the Central District. Some of those locations could again be under consideration under the new plan but city planners haven’t yet publicly discussed proposals for the dozen or so sites that are expected to be under consideration before choosing the final three.

Planning and land use committee chair Mike O’Brien tells CHS the bill is lined up for a full council vote on March 9th which would mean the first camps under the regulations could be open by late summer or early fall.

In the most recent “One Night Count” of homeless people sleeping on the streets of King County, volunteers tallied 3,772 people sleeping outside.

The city is emphasizing the “transitional” nature of the camps.

“It’s not a permanent solution,” O’Brien told CHS before Thursday night’s hearing. “It’s a step along the path and we have to make sure it’s a short path to more affordable housing.”

UPDATE: The Daily Journal of Commerce reports on one new development that should also help planned for 7th and Cherry:

Plymouth Housing Group will start construction in January on 83 apartments for formerly homeless people on First Hill, near an area under Interstate 5 where people now sleep at night.



CHS Schemata | Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue — Part 2

(Images: John Feit/Schemata Workshop)

(Images: John Feit/Schemata Workshop)

The first tour of the northwest corner of Capitol Hill focused on the distant and rich landscape views that the area proximate to Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue provides. In Part 2, the focus will be on this area’s more intimate landscapes which are shaped by both its geography and culture.

The Ben Lomond is an appropriate starting point; its oblique position on the street grid is the result of its being on the edge a steep hill. It is not often that buildings on Capitol Hill deviate from the incessant and dominant street grid. Here, there is a relatively slight skew of the Ben Lomond to Belmont, lending greater prominence to the building and landscape than they would otherwise have. The gently angled Lomond provides a mini piazza of sorts, reminding one of pre-industrial cities and their more organic roots. Instead of asphalt and concrete one could imagine a landscape paved in stone and low landscaped walls affording a quiet place within which to enjoy a sunny day. Continue reading

With gunfire joining sounds of construction, 23rd and Union property owner tries simple measures as bigger changes loom

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

Since the new year, reports of gunfire and increased criminal activity around 23rd and Union have amplified calls for police and property owners to ramp up safety efforts in the heart of the Central District even as millions of dollars in development spending flows into the intersection. The sprawling Midtown Center property on the southeast corner has lately been a source of concern for neighbors in the area.

Midtown owner Tom Bangasser tells CHS he is taking steps to try to curb nighttime crime. Last week, Midtown shop owners put up larger “no loitering” signs and Bangasser said he has met with police to discuss stepping up loitering enforcement, especially at night. Still, Bangasser said he can’t control deeper issues in the community.

“We’re about to spend $215 million on this new jail center, maybe that should go into jobs,” he said. “Some of these guys are just hanging out because they don’t have jobs.” Continue reading

City Council working to create better cap on ‘affordable’ microhousing rent

The Boylston Flats are being planned as an "affordable" microhousing development with rent-controlled units

The Boylston Flats are being planned as an “affordable” microhousing development with rent-controlled units

A bill in front of the Seattle City Council’s planning housing committee Thursday would limit the rent affordable housing developers can charge for Small Efficiency Dwelling Units, the city’s slightly euphemistic term for microhousing and congregate-style apartments.

The legislation is an attempt to patch up Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption program which currently has a loophole allowing developers taking part in the program to consider SEDU-style units as standard studios in calculating affordable rent limits.

The program provides a 12-year tax exemption in exchange for making 20% of a project’s units income and rent restricted.

According to the staff memo on the legislation, the bill “would reduce the maximum rent threshold for income-restricted SEDUs in MFTE projects to a level affordable to individuals earning 40% of AMI, resulting in a maximum monthly housing cost of $618 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $24,720.”

“[T]ypical SEDU market-rate rents are anticipated to be less than not only market-rate rents but also the restricted, affordable-rate rents for studios,” the analysis notes.

While the microhousing type developments that last year’s regulations have left plenty of room for on Capitol Hill are seen as one small part of the answer to achieving greater affordability in the city, a quick pass through Craigslist ads shows that many units around the Hill are going for more than 2x the proposed affordable cap. While one place will give you your 300 square feet for $900 month, others with 400 or so square feet weigh in around $1,400 per month.

In the meantime, here is one example of a microhousing project planned to be part of the MFTE gearing up for construction on Boylston.


What the 16-story Broadway Whole Foods development will look like

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)


Though its first round in the Seattle design review process isn’t slated until March, city planners are getting their first looks at the plans for the new Whole Foods grocery store and 16-story apartment tower planned for the intersection of First Hill and Capitol Hill at Broadway and Madison.

Developer Columbia Pacific Advisors and the architects of Tiscareno Associates are preparing plans for a 160-foot-tall, 288-unit apartment building featuring a two-level 40,000 square-foot street-level “urban grocery,” and five stories of underground parking for 374 motor vehicles and 98 bikes.

“The four sides of the project site face different neighborhoods. The design responds to these different areas with one unified concept. forms and materials wrap the corners to create continuity,” a draft of the “early design guidance” document for the project reads. Continue reading

Central District slow growth activist will challenge Sally Clark for City Council seat

As Capitol Hill prepares to dive into its first-ever City Council District 3 election, remember that two at-large races will require some attention, too. One of those is shaping up around development and land use and could have big repercussions for Capitol Hill and Seattle’s Inner City.

Last week, Central Area activist Bill Bradburd announced he would challenge incumbent Sally Clark for the at-large Position 9 seat. Clark, who was appointed to council in 2006, is a policy wonk (some would say too wonky) who has spent several years on council trying to balance developer and resident priorities on various zoning and land-use issues. Bradburd, 57, is also a land use buff, but decisively of the community activist ilk.

“All the politics in the city really boil down to land use and zoning,” Bradburd recently told CHS. Continue reading

Capitol Hill gets ‘efficient’ as two new-era microhousing projects face design review

"It doesn't feel like microhousing at all!" -- Guy in rendering

“It doesn’t feel like microhousing at all!” — Guy in rendering

As CHS reported last fall, Seattle’s new microhousing rules left plenty of room for aPodment-style development on Capitol Hill. One of the biggest asks for microhousing critics was to subject the “efficiency unit” building type to the Seattle design review process. Critics — and the rest of us — can see their dreams become reality at Wednesday night’s meeting of the East Design Review Board.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 2.13.46 PMBoylston Flats
1404 Boylston is familiar territory for the board. The seven-story “affordable” apartment building with 105 units averaging around 440 square feet a piece and slated to replace the 1905-built Emerald City Manor apartments took its first run through early design guidance back in November.

At that meeting, the board didn’t like what it saw and kicked the project back to microhousing developers Tyler Carr and Kelten Johnson and architect S+H Works to sort out the issues for another EDG round. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Slummit Block Party, LLC

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_6877Last week, CHS reported that the artist enclave Summit Inn had been sold to a developer with plans to transform the Inn “into conventional apartments” with a total overhaul and inevitably higher rents.

Saturday night, some of the Inn’s remaining residents and other Summit Ave neighbors got together for a winter edition of the block’s annual music festival. Here are a few scenes from this weekend’s Slummit Block Party, LLC.

Meanwhile, the Summit Inn’s new owner Brad Padden‘s plan — “Substantial Alterations to an existing 40-unit apartment building. Renovate all units and decrease unit count to 35 small efficiency dwelling units” — is wending its way through the Department of Planning and Development.

#caphillpsa: Capitol Hill signs — Starbucks apologies, Comet code of conduct, City Market on Tom Brady’s balls

(Image: Comet Tavern)

(Image: Comet Tavern)

It’s a sign. One of the most effective ways to communicate your thoughts on the Hill on the Hill is to create a big, giant sign. CHS has a pile of Capitol Hill sign updates to share, below.

  • As you can imagine, we’ve been sent the Starbucks apologies banner that popped up on the side of Benson’s Grocery several times over the weekend. But Dan Nolte sent it first.

    This appeared on Bellevue at Pike over the weekend -- thanks to @noltedan (and everybody else) for sending

    This appeared on Bellevue at Pike over the weekend — thanks to @noltedan (and everybody else) for sending

  • We assume the sign makers “Mark and Sam” are referring to this. But maybe they meant this?
  • Benson’s, by the way, knows a little about the city’s on-premises advertising rules regarding signage.
  • We look forward to the Amazon, Microsoft, and CHS editions of the apology banners. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Rising above the relentless development of Capitol Hill

IMG_3672IMG_3662IMG_3668Don’t let the relentless change of Capitol Hill get you down. Rise above. Seattle photographer Alex Garland — our busiest CHS photography contributor — took a climb on our behalf Thursday afternoon above 501 E Pike on the construction crane helping to build the eight-story Dunn Automotive development, a project its backer says will set a standard for new buildings utilizing the Pike/Pine Conservation District’s preservation incentives.

The views, we think, will help you remember you live in an amazing city full of incredible sights. And, yes, you’ll also see a lot of cranes. Continue reading

New owner, higher rents bringing an end to the Summit Inn DIY house and artist collective 

The freewheeling, DIY days of Capitol Hill’s Summit Inn are coming to an end. The culprit? Higher rents, of course.

Longtime building owner Pete Sikov recently sold the Inn to real estate investor Brad Padden, who residents say is raising rents in an effort to transform units into conventional apartments. Residents at the 1722 Summit Ave building that spoke with CHS said many of the building’s artists and musicians are now moving out, or planning to in the coming weeks.

On December 31st, residents were notified that rents would increase by around $100 and continue to increase for the foreseeable future. “We understand that the living conditions at the Summit Inn are in need of a major makeover. We will begin that process immediately,” said the letter form the building’s new manager, David Sharkey. Continue reading

Thanks to auto row and REI roots, The Stranger building to join neighboring Value Village as protected landmarks

One of Pike/Pine’s most recognizable auto-row buildings is likely to remain intact for decades to come thanks to a gush of neighborhood support and a key vote on Wednesday.

The Landmarks Preservation Board voted 8-0 to designate the White Motor Company building an official city landmark, citing its auto row-era roots and ties to one of the nation’s most widely known outdoor retailers. The landmark bid now moves to City Council for final approval.

“It is very easily identifiable, even to those not familiar with Capitol Hill,” said board member Deb Barker.

An early component of Seattle’s REI history and now home to The Stranger and the Rhino Room, the prominent terra cotta-faced building at 11th and Pine has stood above Cal Anderson Park since it was was constructed in 1918.

REI voiced support for White Motor’s landmark bid, but the outdoor retailer has not said if it has any future plans to become more involved with the building. An REI spokesperson would only say the company was following the landmarks process “with interest.”

A landmark designation, along with the recent landmark designation of the adjacent Value Village building, threaten to halt plans for a preservation incentive-powered development project by owner Legacy Commercial though appeals could be in the offing.

Members of the public spoke in favor of a landmark designation on Wednesday and the board had previously received dozens of letters in support of the bid. With relatively little deliberation, the board also voted to landmark the building’s third floor interior wooden beams. Continue reading