Two big items on Sound Transit’s agenda for lots of affordable housing on Broadway, First Hill — UPDATE

UPDATE 3:35 PM: The Sound Transit board approved both motions Thursday afternoon paving the way for a “no cost” transfer of two First Hill properties to nonprofit developers Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing and, in the second vote, putting in place a memorandum of understanding between the transit agency, Seattle Central, and Capitol Hill Housing for a swap of Capitol Hill properties. Details on the plans are below.

In public comments, Bellwether’s CEO Susan Boyd called the joint proposal with Plymouth “a bold plan” that will create much needed affordable housing on First Hill.

Board member and Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson called the First Hill proposal “very consistent with what the community asked for” and said the neighborhood’s “YIMBY” spirit was reflected in the plan.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said affordable housing is now central to Sound Transit’s mission as it also works to provide transit to the region’s growing population. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, meanwhile, voted against the motion saying he was troubled by the “no cost” aspect of the plan as a “dangerous precedent.”

Additionally, the board also approved a motion on a plan for “Central Transit-Oriented Development” near the Roosevelt light rail station that will involve Bellwether and Mercy Housing Northwest.

Original report: Sound Transit’s board is scheduled to make two key decisions on property it owns across First Hill and Capitol Hill that will potentially open the way for big deals around affordable housing and and expanded Seattle Central.

The Sound Transit Board will vote Thursday whether to move forward with two land deals.

One motion paves the way negotiate with Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing in a purchase of Sound Transit land at 1014 Boylston Ave and 1400 Madison meant for high-rise affordable housing, up to 160 feet.

“We thought in viewing their proposal that their numbers were reasonable,” said Sarah Lovell from Sound Transit. “It is an expensive project. It’s expensive to build a high-rise. But stacking two housing project increases their ability to get subsidies. They’re trying to be really efficient with their design.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | A day of planting in Freeway Park

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Freeway Park, the public space connecting Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle and the first piece of what could eventually be a more complete lidding of I-5, will have a little more color come spring thanks to a day of community work this fall.

The Freeway Park Association hosted a fall planting day in Seneca Plaza over the weekend.

“It’s like this little temporary engagement that is going to create a burst of color and activity in the springtime,” executive director Riisa Conklin said. Continue reading

Plymouth at First Hill, one point of progress in Seattle’s homelessness emergency

Plymouth Housing Group built the Cal Anderson House — supportive housing for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance — 17 years ago. Now, they’re opening a new building on First Hill, moving in mostly homeless people with disabilities. Because of the mountains of paperwork, moving people in is a slow and rough process that will be finished by the end of December.

Walking up to the building on Cherry Street, the familiar landscape-painted poles under I-5 accompany people sitting out in the cold on mattresses, in boxes and in tents. Plymouth’s own building attempts to bring a piece of that familiarity inside with its own landscape-painted pole in its lobby.

The security-enforced front desk, operated 24/7, lies adjacent. Largely because of its hours, the building has 10 people on staff. Those working the front desk try to keep tabs on their residents so they know everything is alright while not being too intrusive. It’s a tough balance. UPDATE: CHS reported on the staff total for the project. There are 170 total employees across all Plymouth properties. Sorry for the error.

“A lot of the people who moved in to Plymouth Housing units have not been treated well in the system and bureaucracy,” said chief program officer Kelli Larsen. Continue reading

Community groups pushing for public benefits package have $80M agreement with Convention Center — UPDATE

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin

The Community Package Coalition has reached an agreement on an $80 million slate of public infrastructure investments surrounding the planned expansion of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

Details of the agreement were set to be unveiled in a Monday afternoon press conference:

On Monday, October 16th at 1:30 PM, the Community Package Coalition, an alliance of community organizations adjacent to the planned the three-block, $1.6B Washington State Convention Center Addition (WSCCA), will announce results of their months-long negotiations with the developers of the WSCCA to secure a fair public benefits package for the people of Seattle.

The coalition represents community groups and nonprofits including the First Hill Improvement Association, Lid I-5, Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, Central Seattle Greenways, Housing Development Consortium, Freeway Park Association, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

UPDATE: Here is the announced roster of projects that made the benefits package cut:

Summary of WSCC Addition Public Benefits and Investments
Item$ MM
Community Package Projects
Freeway Park Improvements$10.0
Lid I-5 Study$1.5
Pike-Pine Bicycle Improvements$10.0
Olive Way Pedestrian Improvements$0.5
8th Ave Bicycle Improvements$6.0
Terry Ave Promenade$4.0
Affordable Housing$29.0
Subtotal$61.0
Other Public Benefits (current estimate)
Pike-Pine Renaissance Pedestrian Improvements$10.0
9th Avenue Pedestrian Improvements$0.6
Public Art$1.9
Historic Building Lighting$1.0
On-Site Features$8.1
Improvements to Olive Way$0.2
Subtotal                                                                             $82.8

The coalition has been pushing Convention Center and public officials to create a broader — and more expensive — package of public benefits package required to justify the vacation of three alleys for the $1.6 billion downtown project. Continue reading

Despite stormy economic seas, Whole Foods still set to anchor 17-story Broadway tower

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

As news broke this week that Whole Foods is pulling out of its plan for a new West Seattle store as part of nationwide cutbacks, CHS asked what about the company’s plans for The Danforth, the 16-story mixed-use building rising at Madison and Broadway.

A company spokesperson says plans have not changed for the Broadway store. “We are still on schedule to open our Capitol Hill store at the corner of Broadway and Madison in late 2018,” she tells CHS. Continue reading

Final…ly APRIL will be held in April as Capitol Hill-born small press festival closes book on seven years

By Tim Kukes for CHS

The APRIL Festival and Book Expo is breaking with tradition.  For the first time — and the last time — the uniquely Capitol Hill literary festival will be confining its celebration to one day only — April 1st.

The Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature festival, traditionally held in the later part of March to honor National Small Press Month, is coming to the end of its tale after a six-year journey of bringing eclectic reading events and diverse small press publishers to the people of Capitol Hill and Seattle.

APRIL Festival & Book Expo

“We feel like this is a good time to end the festival,” Frances Chiem, acting director, said. “We’ve done a lot with it and the small press community is a lot more vibrant than when we first started.  We feel there are other community voices that will step in and fill the void.”

The story of the festival starts with Pilot Books, once located on Broadway, and Willie Fitzgerald and Tara Atkinson.  The small press bookstore had a reputation as a vibrant community space and hosted a Small Press Festival in 2011 — essentially the first APRIL event and renamed after Pilot Books closed in the summer of 2011. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Last meals at the First Hill McDonald’s

IMG_8968CHS stopped by Tuesday morning for the final breakfast — ever? — at the First Hill McDonald’s. Of course, in 2017, McDonald’s will serve you “All Day Breakfast,” just part of the many strategies and optimizations the global burger chain has made to stay a part of 21st century dining habits and continue its run of “Billions and Billions Served.”

CHS reported in February on the coming demolition for the proletariat dining room and the corner of Madison and Minor’s future as host to a 700-Big Mac-tall apartment tower. You can attend a public pre-construction meeting on the project Thursday.

We never did hear back from franchise owner David Santillanes about the closure. Continue reading

Finishing one story from the Capitol Hill pizza boom — plus A Pizza Mart tale on First Hill

Meltdown tossed it in after less than a year of business at Pine and Minor

Meltdown tossed it in after less than a year of business at Pine and Minor

It’s true, Reddit, we did leave a storyline incomplete from the great Capitol Hill pizza boom of 2016. Let’s finish the story and, yes, start a new one with yet more pizza coming to a VERY TALL building on First Hill.

“If it would have taken off it would have been great,” Josh Carrigan tells CHS about the rise and fall of his Meltdown Pizza which was born and died in the Minor and Pine building during the 2016 boom in pie joints. “I just said, ah fuck it, I’m not happy anymore.”

Carrigan wasn’t new to Capitol Hill food and drink. For seven years, he has been part of building the no frills Still Liquor into a popular place to drink like a grownup beneath Melrose Market. Carrigan said it quickly turned out “the pizza market was saturated” so he pulled the plug early on the project and hit the slopes for a winter of snowboarding. He still holds the lease and says a new project is lined up for the space. More about that soon. It won’t be a pizza joint.

A Pizza Mart pie, coming to First Hill (Image: A Pizza Mart)

A Pizza Mart pie, coming to First Hill (Image: A Pizza Mart)

The next new pizza investment in the area will instead come at the base of a 31-story apartment tower on First Hill.

A fifth location of the A Pizza Mart pizza bar family has been building out its space in the Cielo Apartments at 800 Seneca and is close to opening. The 27-year-old pizza player is known for its liquor and pie combination. As Carrigan notes, it joins a saturated market but, with 30 stories of apartments above it, A Pizza Mart First Hill might come with a built-in customer base.

 

Long-term fix for First Hill Streetcar likely to take months, bill to be determined

IMG_0702The First Hill Streetcar went back into operation at 5 AM on Monday after a sliding incident on March 1 took it out of service. Short-term fixes and precautions have been put in place until a long-term solution is ready, which could take months. And, while a bill for the 20-day outage and repairs is still being tabulated, officials told a City Council committee Tuesday afternoon that Seattle shouldn’t be on the hook for the costs.

“If we go the direction that we’ve kind of talked about, some of those components have to be specifically ordered and manufactured, and that’s a two month period just to get the components made in Germany,” Michael James, with the Seattle Department of Transportation said. “So we’re probably talking months not weeks.”

SDOT did not provide an estimated cost due to the service failure, but James said it appears to be manufacturer Inekon’s or its insurance company’s responsibility to cover costs from the service closure, which could include work to get the streetcar operating again and bus service provided during peak travel times on the route by King County Metro. Continue reading

First Hill Streetcar fleet ready to return to Broadway after repairs

IMG_0029-600x400 (1)The Seattle Department of Transportation announced late Sunday night that a fix was identified and executed and the First Hill Streetcar will be back in action Monday morning starting at 5 AM — albeit at a speed-restricted 7 MPH through the stretch where the March 1st sliding incident occurred:

Prior to returning to service, the entire fleet of vehicles had a modification installed, tested, and documented individually. The modifications and operating orders have been reviewed and approved by the required safety officials. With these modifications, operating orders, and safety approvals in place, the vehicles are safe and operational for return to service. Continue reading