Rocker Hendrix part of Judkins Park light rail station design

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Entrances from 23rd Ave (above) and Rainier Ave. (Images: Sound Transit)

Jimi Hendrix will be looking down when you hear that train a comin’ at the Judkins Park Station in 2023. The Central District’s most celebrated son will be honored with two large murals at his home neighborhood light rail station, according to the latest designs for the Judkins Park Station.

Architects from Hewitt and Sound Transit presented the most recent artwork and schematics for the elevated station to the Seattle Design Commission Thursday. The station design is currently 90% complete, putting Sound Transit on track to start construction by next spring. Continue reading

Agreement on $17M+ land lease will put Capitol Hill Station development on track for fall 2019 opening — UPDATE

In spring 2018, developer Gerding Edlen will finally break ground on the 100,000-square-foot Capitol Hill Station commercial, housing, and community space project. To do it, the developer needs to sign a land lease for the Sound Transit-owned property.

On Thursday, the Sound Transit board will vote on three 99-year lease agreements to hand over control of Sites A, B-South, and C — the paved over, fenced off parcels along Broadway between E Denny Way and E John. If approved, it would put Gerding on track to finish the project in fall 2019.

UPDATE (3:20 PM): The Sound Transit board unanimously approved the lease agreements Thursday afternoon, paving they way for Gerding Edlen to dive into the design phase of the project. “Today is a really exciting day,” said Sarah Lovell, a member of Sound Transit’s “transit orientated development” staff.

In addition to some 400 apartments, the project will include a retail “bazaar” anchored by a grocery store. Portland-based New Seasons Market and Capitol Hill’s Central Co-op are currently vying to take over the space. The project is also slated to include a daycare, community space, and permanent home for the Broadway Farmers Market.

Board members said the project would be an example for all future TOD projects along the expanding light rail system. Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff praised his staff following the vote, saying many had lived and breathed the deal for the past six months. “It’s easily the most ambitious TOD action the agency has ever taken,” he said.

Continue reading

Sound Transit light rail cell service rollout begins with downtown-Capitol Hill-UW tunnels

Your three minute and change light rail rides through the tunnels to downtown and UW via Capitol Hill Station might seem a little longer. Tuesday, the switch was flipped to turn on the neutral host 4G LTE cell network — a multi-carrier network with data — built to eventually service all of Sound Transit’s underground light rail stations and tunnels.

Wireless infrastructure provider Mobilitie built and runs the network and is working with Sound Transit to roll out the service segment by segment, carrier by carrier. Anybody annoying you this week by grunting “uh huh” over and over again is a T-Mobile customer. Soon, Verizon and AT&T “uh huh” grunters will follow. Seattle Transit Blog reports Sprint has yet to sign a contract to be part of the early service deployment.

There have already been a few early adopters, of course: Continue reading

First look at how light rail, route revisions have changed Capitol Hill bus ridership

Over the weekend, CHS’s Re:Take history series took a look back at some of the lost bus routes of Capitol Hill. We don’t have to look back far in time to find the changes. Late last year, Metro planned out a wave of revisions and reroutes to optimize its service around the opening of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station and UW.

Now, the Seattle Transit Blog has provided the first look at how ridership on the altered bus lines has changed in the first months as ridership on light rail has soared.

STB grouped the impacted Capitol Hill routes into a set of winners…

  • Route 11: up 38% — The #11 is likely absorbing demand on Pine Street east of Broadway for former Route 10 riders unwilling to walk to Link. Continue reading

Why Sound Transit is not rolling out more 3-car light rail trains

Southbound trips

Northbound tripsSound Transit may consider it an encouraging problem to have that the chief complaint among riders of its recently expanded light rail system is that trains are sometimes overcrowded. During last week’s Sound Transit board meeting, members asked transit officials to respond to public demand for more capacity and explain why more three-car trains are not running on the mostly two-car system.

It turns out that even with the huge boost in ridership since the Capitol Hill and UW stations opened in March, Link light rail is still well within its capacity on most trips.

“We cannot guarantee that everyone will have a seat during peak hours, nor was that how the system was designed or funded,” said David Huffaker, Sound Transit’s deputy executive director of operations. Continue reading

$2.65M deal for affordable housing site puts Capitol Hill Station development in motion — UPDATE

Early concept of the development coming to "Site B North"

Early concept of the development coming to “Site B North”

Sound Transit is finally ready to sell off the first of five properties surrounding the Capitol Hill light rail station that will transform Broadway and serve as a new gateway to Capitol Hill.

The board is expected to approve the $2.65 million sale (PDF) of Site B-North to developer Gerding Edlen during its Thursday afternoon meeting. The Portland-based developer previously selected Capitol Hill Housing to develop and own an 86-unit affordable housing project on the site, which runs along 10th Ave between John and Denny Way.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): Sound Transit board members approved the Site B-North sale agreement during their Thursday afternoon meeting. Despite a Sound Transit staffer reminding the board the action was “a very, very big deal,” the approval was rather unceremonious as one member had to be pulled in from the hallway to make a quorum for the quick vote. There was no board discussion of the measure.

“The Capitol Hill community has repeatedly and strongly expressed its desire for affordable housing,” said Brie Gyncild, co-chair of the Capitol Hill Champion community group. “We need truly affordable housing as soon as possible and we near it near the light rail station.”


(Image: Gerding Edlen)

According to Gerding’s winning proposal, half of Site B-North’s units will be restricted to households making no more than 30% of the area median income. The other half will be made affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI. A quarter of the units will have two or three bedrooms. Initial plans call for a community center and a daycare, as well as a rooftop deck and computer lab.

The $2.65 million price tag for the “transit orientated development” “Site B North” comes just under Sound Transit’s estimated price last year. A substantial percentage of the proceeds will go towards paying back federal transportation grants that were secured for the project.

In August, the board is expected to approve land leases for three other sites so Gerding Edlen can move forward with its plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial, housing, and community space. Seattle Central College has been given a right of first refusal to develop a fifth parcel, Site D, due to the site’s location directly next to the school’s Broadway promenade.  Continue reading

Here’s what comes next for Capitol Hill Station development

As trains swiftly carry thousands of passengers through Capitol Hill’s subway station every day, the process to develop the area above ground continues to inch forward.

Next week, the Sound Transit Board is expected to approve a sale agreement for one parcel, known as Site B-North. The vote during the July 28th meeting will pave the way for Capitol Hill Housing to start designing and building an 86-unit affordable housing project. In August, the board is expected to approve land leases for the three other sites so developer Gerding Edlen can move forward with its plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial, housing, and community space.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-22-at-11.12.06-PM-600x406Sound Transit has not yet publicly released the lease agreements or the preliminary agreements signed earlier this month, saying that it may compromise negotiations with other developers should the Gerding deal fall through. The agency, which purchased the Broadway sites between E Denny Way and E John and demolished them in 2009 to build the underground station, has previously said the parcels were worth around $25 million and that Gerding was aiming for a 75-year deal to lease the properties.

Members of the Capitol Hill Champion group have been planning and anticipating the milestone for years after helping to forge a development agreement that included community benefits like space for a farmers market and affordable housing. “It’s exciting we’re finally getting to this point,” said Champion co-chair Brie Gyncild Continue reading

Here’s why Capitol Hill Station’s escalators were reversed

Light rail travelers at Capitol Hill Station over the holiday weekend had to do a double-take — or worse:

Riders were surprised to find the “up” escalator was suddenly the “down” escalator — vice versa. Continue reading

Council member O’Brien wants Central Co-op to anchor Capitol Hill Station development

Favorites-1-of-4-1-600x400Council member Mike O’Brien has made an unexpected endorsement, not for a political candidate, but for a Capitol Hill grocer.

In a letter to the developer of the four-site retail and housing project that will one day surround the Capitol Hill Station, the District 6 rep expressed his support for Central Co-op to become the development’s anchor tenant over Portland-based New Seasons Market. Both grocers are vying to occupy the future prominent retail space on Broadway, poised to be an extremely high-trafficked site given the thousands of light rail riders who are already moving through the block daily.

Members of the 16th and E Madison co-op announced in April to pursue a second location in the “transit orientated development” following reports that developer Gerding Edlen was in talks with New Seasons.

A group of labor organizations and Council District 3 rep Kshama Sawant previously voiced concerns about an “anti-union climate” at New Seasons stores. Citing Central Co-op’s early implementation of a $15 minimum wage and “spirit of sustainability,” O’Brien said the Capitol Hill-born grocer would be a better fit for the neighborhood.

“I was in the room when they announced their desire to pursue the TOD space,” O’Brien said in his letter. “I was inspired by the energy and excitement of hundreds of people, all of whom are owners of the business, turning their energy towards a common goal and vision.” Continue reading

U-Link construction workers sue Sound Transit contractor over discrimination


Workers boring the U-Link tunnel in 2012. (Image: CHS)

Three African American construction workers who helped build the Capitol Hill light rail tunnels during 2011-2012 say supervisors gave skilled minority laborers menial tasks, denied overtime based on race, and were openly hostile to black workers.

The allegations were made in a civil lawsuit filed in a Seattle federal court earlier this month against Traylor Brothers, a company that had formed a joint venture with Frontier-Kemper to bore the the U-Link twin tunnels between Capitol Hill and the University of Washington stations. Continue reading

Light rail riders, here is what you’ll be fighting for: ST3 plan approved for ballot

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

West Seattle by 2030. Ballard by 2035. The updated — and modestly sped up — proposal for Sound Transit 3 was approved by the agency’s board Thursday afternoon. Prepare for a fight as the $54 billion plan goes to the ballot in November.

CHS wrote about the initial ST3 proposal when it was released in March with a package to build 62 miles of light rail lines north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and Issaquah, plus the highly anticipated lines to West Seattle and Ballard, and a second downtown transit tunnel. Continue reading

As ridership booms, economic impact of light rail on Capitol Hill a guessing game

South Wall, Broadway/Denny Entrance: Link Light Rail Capitol Hill Station

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 4.40.20 PMSome numbers around light rail on Capitol Hill are clear. According to Sound Transit’s latest service report, April light rail boardings are up nearly 80% compared to April 2015 thanks to the opening of UW Station and Capitol Hill Station. If you’re looking for signs of a likely Capitol Hill effect, while weekday ridership is up 78%, and Sunday has climbed around 64%, Saturday boardings have leapt 108%. Since the Capitol Hill light rail station opened in late March, ridership has exceeded expectations. Adding to the hype have been reported anecdotes from Capitol Hill businesses who said they had seen a spike in customer traffic due to the new station. Ridership is booming. Is it possible to empirically measure light rail-related economic activity on Capitol Hill?

Both the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Office of Economic Development — the two entities that would have the best sense of how to approach such a question — say that while it is possible, it is far too early to tell and the methods of measuring are limited. There are also other variables to consider, such as general population growth on the Hill.

“While we’re optimistic Link Light Rail will have a positive impact on Capitol Hill’s economy, at this point, it is too soon to draw a conclusion until we have data to evaluate,” OED’s Economic Intelligence Advisor, John Crawford-Gallagher, tells CHS.

“There’s not [any substantial evidence] yet mainly because the window time has been so short,” said the Chamber’s Sierra Hansen. “Right now the quickest way to get some hard numbers is to partner with some businesses on Broadway to tell us how they’re doing.” Continue reading