Developer shows off plans for Capitol Hill Station housing and The Market Hall

unnamedSiteMapv4-W-Map-1024x807-600x472-1-400x315For the first time since they were selected to develop the housing and retail sites that will one day surround the Capitol Hill light rail station, developers Gerding Edlen met with the Capitol Hill community Saturday to show off its early designs for the project.

The Portland-based developer set up posters inside E Pine’s Century Ballroom for a public viewing of the company’s winning proposal, which Sound Transit selected and made available last month. The event was co-hosted by Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Champion, a neighborhood group that’s worked for years to insert community priorities into the “transit orientated development” project.

Members from the Gerding team and architects from Schemata Workshop were on hand to answer questions and take public feedback during the three hour open house. The event was a kickoff of sorts to a new round of community engagement on the project as Sound Transit spent much of the past six months scoring proposals from four teams.

A dog swimming pool, music practice spaces, a newsstand, and more vibrant color palettes were just a few of the colorful suggestions attendees offered after viewing the designs Saturday. Continue reading

Summit Ave E building part of workforce wave bringing ‘below market’ apartments to Hill — 8 units at a time

A rendering of the now-complete -- and open to residents -- Local 422

A rendering of the now-complete — and open to residents — Local 422

She had spent months looking for the right place to live. She wanted to be able to walk to her job downtown at an orthodontist’s office, but still be able to afford her rent. Then she found a new building on Summit Ave E, The Local 422 and landed one of the units built under Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption Program.

“I got really lucky,” said the new resident CHS ran into after a tour of the new project. “It’s the tiniest (income) window you have to hit.”

Under the program, developers must make at least 20% of their units available only to tenants making 80% or less of the average median income for the area. In exchange, the developer is exempt from property taxes. The exemption lasts for up to 12 years, so long as the developer keeps up their end of the deal. Continue reading

Meet the Capitol Hill Station developers

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(Image: Gerding Edlen)

Representatives from the company selected to lead the most significant development project on Capitol Hill… ever will be on hand Saturday to meet with the community and begin the public process of sharing their vision for the blocks of Broadway between John and Denny surrounding Capitol Hill Station.


Capitol Hill Champion — Meet the Developers
Saturday, May 16th – 1 to 4 PM
Century Ballroom

In April, CHS reported on the selection of Portland-based Gerding Edlen as the “master developer” for the multi-site retail and housing projects. A protest from Capitol Hill Housing could also put the local nonprofit developer in the mix to handle the affordable housing earmarked for the B-North site. Developers were allowed to plan for 85-foot tall buildings along Broadway in exchange for going above minimum affordable housing requirements.

The $1.8 billion light rail extension connecting downtown to the University of Washington under Capitol Hill is expected to open for service by early 2016. Sound Transit forecasts that by 2030, there will be 14,000 boardings a day at Capitol Hill Station. The transit oriented development around the station on Broadway will add some 400 apartments to the site as part of 100,000 square feet of “transit oriented development” including housing, commercial, and community spaces.

Across ‘the I-5 canyon’ from Capitol Hill, Convention Center expansion plans take shape

(Image: LMN Architects)

(Image: LMN Architects)

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.33.48 AM

Sometime after the planned start of construction in 2017, you’ll have a new view of things from Plymouth Pillars Park (Image: LMN Architects)

The next wave of design review board sessions to matter most for Capitol Hill will cover projects that aren’t on Capitol Hill. We’ll focus on the biggest — by far — first as the design plans to shape the $1 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center are slated to get their first public review next Tuesday, May 19th.

With the first review focused on “context” and “urban design analysis,” here’s how the project’s planners are illustrating the proposed buildings will fit into the connective area just over the “I-5 canyon” from Capitol Hill. “The WSCC Addition project has the opportunity to stitch the adjacent neighborhoods together with a similar blend of street level activities, making the proposed facility an intergral (sic) player in the richness and identity of this urban setting,” the planners write.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.44.05 AMHere’s how LMN Architects describes the convention center’s expansion:

The proposal is to apply for Master Use Permits for development of a convention center addition on a site consisting of 3 blocks: Site A: 1600 9th Avenue, Site B: 920 Olive Way, and Site C 1711 Boren Avenue, that will collectively form the proposed Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition Project. The 3 block site is bounded by Howell Street to the north, Pine Street to the south, 9th Avenue to the west, and Boren Avenue and I-5 to the east. Terry Avenue and Olive Way divide the site on the interior. Street and alley vacations will be required for this project.

The proposal tackles some specific “urban design” problems you might be familiar with from your walks up or down the Hill. For Pine from Capitol Hill, for example, the planners say their proposal will “bridge the gap between Capitol Hill and downtown” and “capture both the dynamic granular character of the Capitol Hill and the large-scale civic character of Downtown. It will also, “encourage pedestrian activity through urban streetscape amenities,” naturally.

The future view from Pine (Image: LMN Architects)

The future view from Pine (Image: LMN Architects)

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Civic Duty | Madison BRT open house, 12th Ave E design review

  • Screen-Shot-2015-02-03-at-11.23.24-AM-600x438Madison BRT Open House: With the mayor announcing a revision to the planned levy that will help pay for it Since announcing an initial draft proposal in mid-March, the Mayor’s Office and SDOT have engaged people across Seattle, seeking feedback on transportation priorities. The revised proposal reflects what the City has learned through this engagement effort. — the Madison BRT project will be on the board Wednesday night at an open house to gather feedback on the $87 million project:
    SDOT would like your input on:
    -BRT design options, routing, terminals, and station locations
    -Priorities for transit service and capital investments
    -Design concepts for a Central Area protected bike lane

    Madison BRT Open House – 5/6/15 5-7 PM at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences Middle School 1432 15th Ave

    CHS wrote here about the biggest design questions for the “bus rapid transit” project planned to create a corridor of speedy bus service from the waterfront all the way up to the Central District through the heart of First Hill and along the southern edges of Capitol Hill.

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.06.27 AM12th Ave E Design Review: The review board has a light session Wednesday night with only one project on the docket. A four-story building with 51 apartment units and no parking is planned for 12th Ave just south of John. The old house standing at the site — like many others along 12th — will be demolished for the project.

    Design Review: 121 12th Ave E
    Design Proposal (PDF)Review Meeting
    May 6, 2015 6:30 pm
    Seattle University
    902 Broadway
    Administration Building Room 221
    Review Phase

CHS Pics | Landmark status can’t save the Carmack House


(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

To call the battle to save the Central District’s George Washington Carmack House a seven-year fight isn’t quite right. Last week, the one-sided end of the tussle came quickly for the more than 100-year-old mansion once home to George Carmack, the Seattle pioneer and prospector credited by most with setting off the Klondike gold rush:

When Carmack and his wife disposed of their holdings in the Klondike, they moved to Seattle where they took residence at the prestigious Hotel Seattle. Kate Carmack did not enjoy living in Seattle and returned to her northern home. [46] Carmack soon thereafter married a woman named Marguerite. Carmack eventually left the Hotel Seattle, but continued residing in the Pioneer Square area. From 1905 until 1909, he lived in a house at 3007 East Denny Way, which has since been removed. By 1910, Carmack moved to 1522 East Jefferson. According to Seattle City Directories, Carmack lived at this address until he died in 1922. Marguerite Carmack continued living in the house until the 1940s. A considerable amount of development has occurred around this house, which is still used as a residential structure.

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Now a little more YIMBY, plan to scale back new developments in Seattle lowrise areas moving forward

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)

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 bill designed to scale back the size of new housing projects, including future microhousing and townhouse developments around Capitol Hill, is finally moving forward with the Seattle City Council after nearly two years of wrangling between neighborhood residents and pro-density advocates.

However, one provision was left out of the bill after members of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee said it would discourage developers from maximizing the living space inside their buildings. Then-City Council member Sally Clark initially proposed to remove an existing 4-foot height bonus and another floor-to-area ratio bonus for developers that included basement units in their projects. Continue reading

Chophouse Row, Hill’s ‘new Melrose Market,’ opens for business as original celebrates five years

Timmermeister at work in the shadows (Images: CHS)

Timmermeister at work in the shadows (Images: CHS)

UPDATE: CHS stopped by for the May Day opening

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Chophouse Row will be Capitol Hill’s most ambitious development to open in 2015, tying together a slate of likeminded, independent shop owners and offices in a now proven formula from developer Liz Dunn.

To celebrate the five year anniversary of Dunn’s original “Capitol Hill complex“, the tenants at Melrose Market are hosting a party on Saturday starting at 11 AM that will be open to the public and include, among other provisions, Raclette cheese nachos.

As the trio of office tenants settle in upstairs inside the Chophouse building on 11th Ave between Pike and Union, the customer facing elements of Dunn’s project are now lining up to open. First up: Kurt Farm Shop and Niche Outside, two businesses with Capitol Hill roots opening their doors May 1st inside the nearly finished marketplace.


As the only non-food and drink tenant, Niche Outside’s nature inspired shop will feature the finely-tuned tastes of Nisha Kelen, backed by her 30 years in the flower and garden business. Handmade watering cans, wax canvas aprons, and custom blended candles are all items Kelen says you’ll be able to find in her urban-focused shop.

“I’ve always wanted to have a place to go to get a really great gift for somebody that’s linked to the garden,” said Kelen, who just celebrated the 18th anniversary of Fleurish floral shop at 19th and Madison.

Just next door to Niche, farm-to-table pioneer Kurt Timmermeister has taken over a 300-square-foot patch of space for his newest venture. Kurt Farm Shop will feature a selection of dairy products from the farms of Timmermeister and friends, including the best cheeses of Puget Sound, yogurt and ice creams flavored by the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Timmermeister closed his last Capitol Hill venture, Septieme, in 2004 and rolling his investment into his legendary Kurtwood Farm.

The May 1st opening will be a soft opening of sorts for Chophouse, Kelen said, as buildouts continue thoughout the building. Continue reading

Pedestrian zone at 23rd and Jackson would ensure ‘main street’ vibe ahead of redevelopment

A vision of a pedestrianized 23rd and Jackson

A vision of a pedestrianized 23rd and Jackson

With the transformation of 23rd and Union already underway, redevelopment is marching down 23rd Ave. Before it comes, community groups are seeking to ensure the redevelopment around 23rd and Jackson keeps a “main street” vibe.

Following a letter writing campaign by neighborhood activists, the City Council’s land use committee voted last week to add the “pedestrian zone” designation to Jackson between 23rd Ave and MLK Way as part of legislation that would expand the zones across the city. The full council is set to make a final vote on the legislation.

Here’s how the city describes what a pedestrian zone does:

  • Encourage or preserve pedestrian friendly development in commercial cores.
  • Requires specific commercial or institutional uses to be located at the ground floor—
  • Uses that cater to pedestrians and are not residential uses
  • waives some parking requirements to encourage businesses to locate in the area, recognizing that many customers will use means other than driving to get to the business
  • limits driveways across sidewalks along principal pedestrian streets

Neighborhood activists have long sought a pedestrian designation for the section of Jackson, though the real concern lies in the two large shopping plazas, with even larger parking lots, that bookend the 23rd Ave side. It’s there that groups like the Central Area Land Use Review Committee fear new development, if done improperly, could kill the opportunity to create a thriving pedestrian corridor. Continue reading

With protest from nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing to be resolved, deal to develop Capitol Hill Station moves forward

(Image: Gerding Edlen)

The Sound Transit Board including King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray voted Thursday to approve Motion No. M2015-34 authorizing the start of negotiations with Gerding Edlen for the Portland-based developer to lease or purchase — and then develop — the transit agency’s two acres of land surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

But the process still has some negotiation to shake out before all is said and done on the selection of the “master developer.”

According to the Sound Transit board memorandum on the motion, “a protest has been submitted that relates solely to Site B-North. Staff will evaluate the protest and will issue a written decision consistent with Sound Transit’s protest procedures.”

Nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing sent the letter of protest over the selection, CHS has learned. CEO Chris Persons confirmed the protest but told CHS he couldn’t discuss details until talks with Gerding Edlen were wrapped up in coming weeks. Capitol Hill Housing had been part of a proposal with the Jonathan Rose Companies to develop the properties.

In an email sent from Capitol Hill Housing to Sound Transit, Persons wrote that the nonprofit developers would file “a formal protest regarding Sound Transit’s determination to enter into negotiations with an organization other than a qualified not-for-profit for the acquisition and development of site B-North at the Capitol Hill Redevelopment site.”

“We sincerely believe that an honest mistake has been made,” Persons writes, adding that CHH holds Gerding Edlen “in the highest regard.”

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