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

Spring analysis shows Capitol Hill rent rise has… slowwwed… dowwwn…

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Analysts say all the construction may be making a mess of Capitol Hill streets but it might, indeed, be making a small dent — or at least slowing down — the juggernaut that is rent across the area’s neighborhoods.

Overall, rents across Capitol Hill and Eastlake are up 3.9% compared to spring 2016, according to Mike Scott of industry analysts Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors. The firm’s seasonal reports based on interviews and tracking continue to be one of the city’s most watched indicators through an ongoing affordability crisis — and a boom for landlords and City Hall’s coffers thanks to an around 75% leap in taxable activity in Seattle’s construction sector since 2010.

While the continued rise in rents is further hardship for tenants — up some 48% compared to 2012 and a whopping 88% since 2007 — the rise has moderated. Continue reading

21+ things CHS heard at Capitol Hill Housing’s annual community forum

Capitol Hill Housing served up a buffet of neighborhood discussion during its 9th annual community forum Thursday night. Five Capitol Hill speakers touched on a range of forward-looking topics, ranging from lidding I-5 to expanding the Broadway Business Improvement Area to retaining arts spaces in the neighborhood.

This year’s theme was Gearshift, “all about how we respond to the rapid changes facing Capitol Hill.” The presentations and follow up discussions could have been pulled straight from the headlines of CHS:

Expanding the Broadway BIA — Sierra Hansen of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce
Lidding I-5 to create developable land and open space — Scott Bonjukian of Lid I-5
Creating a Capitol Hill parking benefits district — Alex Brennan from Capitol Hill EcoDistrict
Building leadership and power for renters on Capitol Hill — Zachary Pullin of the Capitol Hill Community Council
Incentivizing developers to build or maintain arts space — Tonya Lockyer of Velocity Dance Center

Participants, who gathered for the event at The Summit on E Pike, took a dive into each topic and city leaders presented the results.

During the group discussion about how to build renter power, City Council District 3 rep Kshama Sawant said many people echoed Zachary Pullin’s concerns that renters are given far too little consideration in the city’s development planning.

“Our democracy should not be dependent on property ownership” said Pullin during his presentation.

There was considerable support for a parking benefits district — wherein a portion of metered parking fees are spent within the neighborhood — as long as it did not result in cuts to underserved neighborhoods. Participants proposed extending paid parking hours past 8 PM on Capitol Hill and using those extra funds for neighborhood projects. Continue reading

After cashing in on the ‘burbs, nation’s largest owner of apartment buildings can’t get enough of Capitol Hill

No word if the the "Find your pearl" marketing slogan was part of the deal

No word if the the “Find your pearl” marketing slogan was part of the deal

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 5.49.09 PMChicago-based Equity Residential, the largest publicly traded owner of apartment buildings in the country, has closed on a $33.5 million deal to acquire 15th and Madison’s The Pearl building.

The acquisition expands the company’s Capitol Hill-area holdings after it paid $36.1 million for the Three20 apartment building on Pine and bought the Piecora’s property for $10.3 million in the spring of 2014.

Equity Residential and architects at Ankrom Moisan showed off their plans this summer to replace the old Piecora’s building with a 140-unit, six-story development that includes parking for 140 cars. The planned development will stand within view of the newly acquired Pearl. Continue reading

Hill’s rents continue to soar as Seattle delays affordable housing plan

E Denny Way's Pantages is featured in the city's report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

E Denny Way’s Pantages is featured in the city’s report on affordable housing (Image: William Wright Photography)

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

From the Seattle Workforce Housing study

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 8.16.20 PMHousing costs on Capitol Hill and throughout Seattle are reaching new heights as the most recent study showed average rents on the Hill have reached $1,557 a month. That’s up $162 from this time last year when CHS reported on soaring rents in 2013.

Escalating housing costs have created what many officials say is an affordable housing crisis in Seattle. In February, Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien said there was a “sense of urgency” to develop an affordable housing plan as soon as possible. “Every day the challenge is growing, people are struggling to survive,” O’Brien said.

At that time, O’Brien said the council would have an affordable housing plan by the end of this summer following the results of three studies. At a special committee meeting last week to review one of those studies, O’Brien said the plan would likely not coalesce until September and legislation would not reach the full council until 2015. Continue reading

With ‘skew of the new,’ rents up, vacancies down on Capitol Hill

11th and Pine's Sunset Electric is nearly operational

11th and Pine’s Sunset Electric is nearly operational

All of Capitol Hill’s incoming apartment supply may not be enough to outstrip demand:

Demand continues to outpace new supply. That’s partly due to job growth. Conway Pedersen Economics reports that our region added 49,100 jobs since the first quarter of last year. Another positive trend has been in-migration to the region. While not exactly a measure of in-migration, driver license data is a close to “real-time” substitute. So far this year, the number of people in this region who turned in out-of-state licenses is up 16% from the same period last year.

So you will have to forgive the analysts at Dupre + Scott for licking their chops. These are boom times for apartment developers:

The market vacancy rate is 3.6% in the Puget Sound region. That’s down from 4% last fall. The vacancy rate has only been this low once before since 1980. So, if this is the calm before the storm, it is an extremely good way to start. 

The gross rate including “vacancies in existing properties and new properties in lease-up” is reported at 5%. On Capitol Hill, the analysts say, the rate is even chop lick-ier: 3.6%

Meanwhile, rents rose 3.3% in the region over the past six months and are 7.5% higher than they were at this time in 2013, according to the report.

The analysts also say that there is enough new construction on Capitol Hill that the “rent premium” of new buildings is beginning to skew rent trends… higher. “We’re just beginning to see the rent distortion that new construction will create in a number of neighborhoods like Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, downtown Bellevue, and others,” the Dupre + Scott report concludes. “So beware the skew of the new.”

Fortunately, the City Council will have a new affordable housing plan this summer to sort it all out. Right?