Seattle passes Mandatory Housing Affordability plan to allow its densest neighborhoods to become even denser

A North Capitol Hill resident made his case against Eastlake upzoning prior to Monday’s vote

Four years and 40 Seattle City Council meetings later, the plan to surgically allow taller and more multifamily-packed development in the city’s densest neighborhoods including Capitol Hill has been approved.

“We’re embracing growth by embracing inclusion,” council member and Mandatory Housing Affordability committee chair Rob Johnson said Monday before the vote. “And we’re embracing inclusion by changing plans that were made 25 years ago.”

The vote Monday ran 9-0.

The MHA plan ties upzones in 27 of the city’s densest neighborhoods to the creation of affordable units and will transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property. Continue reading

Capitol Hill homeowners mount last-ditch effort against MHA upzoning… in Eastlake

The view from Harvard Ave E (Image: CHS)

They know they are probably too late. They know that after a multi-year journey of hearings, community meetings, public comment, and legal challenges, the Seattle City Council wants the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation, which connects affordability mandates to upzoning parts of the city’s densest neighborhoods, to reach its destination during a final vote Monday afternoon. Perhaps they even know Monday’s vote is basically pro forma, as council members have worked on it for years and voted unanimously to advance the legislation last month.

And, yet, a group of North Capitol Hill homeowners, along with the Eastlake Community Council, is trying to fight the upzoning of a seven-block-long (and mostly half a block-deep) sliver of I-5-bordering properties in Eastlake. The amendment for zoning increase, from low-rise to mid-rise with a height limit of 80’ on Boylston Ave. E and a short stretch of Franklin Ave. E was recently introduced and approved by the city council as part of a series of amendments that scaled back upzones across neighborhoods and increased some others. Continue reading

Destined for overhaul and preservation as part of mixed-use development, Harvard Ave’s Knights of Columbus building considered for landmarks protections — UPDATE

For a century, it was almost exclusively Catholic men called Knights who were allowed to freely roam the lounges, smoking room and bowling alley of the Knights of Columbus headquarters on the south edge of Capitol Hill. They could work out, or attend Glee Club, dinners, and public speaking classes. Women could not be members. They hung out in the Ladies Parlor.

If everything goes according to plan, by 2021 or so, people of all types will be able to roam the three-story steel and brick masonry, Renaissance Revival-style building. The new owner, SRM Development, a Spokane-based developer of multifamily and commercial properties, hopes to refurbish the historic building through adaptive reuse.

Wednesday afternoon, Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the building for historical protections during a public meeting and presentation. Continue reading

Seattle anti-displacement legislation focused on high risk, low opportunity areas — So, not Capitol Hill

As the Seattle City Council moves toward a vote later this month to finalize the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, legislation to buttress the program with extra protections against displacement in Seattle’s most vulnerable neighborhoods will begin moving forward Wednesday at City Hall.

Sponsored by West Seattle rep Lisa Herbold, the anti-displacement legislation will be taken up by the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee. Despite the Capitol Hill and Central District area’s high potential for displacement from continued redevelopment, Central Seattle’s many resources including jobs, high performing schools, and robust levels of transit would disqualify it from the proposed legislation’s protections. Continue reading

Requiem for the last Capitol Hill funeral home: Bonney Watson demolition underway

It is a funeral, of sorts. Unworthy of landmark status and in the way of a development that will create twin seven-story buildings with more than 200 units of market rate housing along with more than 16,000 square feet of new commercial space on Broadway, Capitol Hill’s Bonney Watson funeral home is being torn down this week.

The demolition of the 1961-constructed modern-style building the landmarks board called underwhelming, boxy, and, depressing is underway after the mortuary business active in Seattle since 1868 departed Capitol Hill for good last year.

In 2013, CHS reported on Bonney Watson’s place on Broadway and in Capitol Hill history. 30 years ago, the busy mortuary handled around 600 deaths annually. In recent years, business had dropped off to around 300 per year. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s upzoning on track to stay intact as Mandatory Housing Affordability enters final stretch

The Miller Park neighborhood could see more projects like the Julia Place Apartments (Image: CHS)

Upzoning plans around Capitol HIll’s Miller Park neighborhood will not be removed from the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability effort as the legislative process to shape the program enters a final phase with a public hearing this week.

Proposed amendments to the still-pending MHA legislation had been identified by council members, city staff, citizens and others. After the first set of proposals was released in January, each district council member had been left to decide what changes they’d like to see move forward within their own district boundaries.

Among the January proposals had been plans to remove some blocks near Miller Park from the program, but those didn’t make the cut. In District 3, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District, council member Kshama Sawant’s office only advanced four proposed changes to areas in the Central District –- all of which add density.

Keeping all of Madison Miller area in the program is just what affordable housing advocates were hoping for.

“We are hopeful that Council will honor the existing plan for MHA without amendments to the Madison Miller Urban Village,” wrote Erin Fried of Capitol Hill Housing. Continue reading

Design review: Is this 20th Ave townhouse project part of Seattle’s ‘missing middle’?

Just build it already. Wednesday night brings a design review for a 20th Ave project that seems like nobody really needs to review — four four-story townhouse buildings creating sixteen new homes replacing a set of two 1909-built single-family style structures that have seen better days.

But the East Design Review Board will give the projects a final once-over Wednesday:

Design review: 1711 20th Ave

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Hunters Capital plans five-story, 75-unit development for 15th Ave E Hilltop Service Station site

With a road ahead of years of soil clean-up and Seattle’s long and winding public design process — plus a few stops along the way at Jim’s Hilltop Service Station which is hoped to keep operating through the process — the future of the corner of 15th Ave E and E Mercer is coming into view.

An early site plan for the property from developer Hunters Capital and the architects at Studio Meng Strazzara details a project planned to rise five stories and feature 75 units over 5,000 square feet of commercial space and 27 underground parking stalls.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce first reported the city filing Tuesday. Continue reading

Comment period opens on proposed Capitol Hill design guidelines — UPDATE

An example of good pedestrian-level design on Capitol Hill from the new proposed design guidelines for the neighborhood (Image: City of Seattle)

New guidelines developed through a multi-year community process set to refresh the design of Capitol Hill development projects are up for public comment.

The Office of Planning and Community Development announced that the proposed neighborhood design guidelines for the Capitol Hill Urban Center Village have been determined to not require Environmental Impact Statement and that the comment period has begun, running through January 30th. The decision can also be appealed to the city’s Hearing Examiner. Continue reading

Microhousing still has a home on the Hill on Harvard Ave

A trio of single-family style homes that have somehow survived in the heart of Capitol Hill at the corner of Harvard and Denny for some 116 years will make way for a planned seven-story building with 80 or so new apartment units. But first the 102 Harvard project must pass through design review. The process begins Wednesday night.

Design review: 102 Harvard Ave E

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