Four years of community process and public input have come to a head with a Capitol Hill Station “coordinated development plan” for the more than 100,000 square-feet of Broadway property above its subway that Sound Transit is about to start the process of selling off to the highest, most qualified bidders.
Or, bidder, for that matter.
A public meeting to discuss the development plan will be held Monday, September 24th from 6 to 8p at Lowell Elementary School.
CHS reported on the final steps this summer to forge the agreement between Sound Transit and the City of Seattle for the five sites stretching along Broadway from John to Denny that the public transportation agency is slated to begin taking bids and proposals for next year. The goal is to have deals locked up by 2014 so construction can be started in time to have the new buildings open for the start of light rail service on the new line when planned operations begin in late 2016.
At market rates of between $350 to $400 per square foot, the five sites — labeled in the diagrams presented in the plan as A, B-South, B-North, C, and D — could fetch Sound Transit upward of $40 million on the open market. The opportunity to develop the sites in conjunction could command an even steeper premium.
But there’s a catch. Or two.
The plan, embedded below, is an attempt to mesh market-driven optimization with Capitol Hill community priorities:
As part of the agreement, the City of Seattle will allow the project to stretch to an 85-foot height limit — with a minimum height of 74′ 11″. Officials said going any higher would have moved the project beyond expensive fire safety thresholds. The height — some 45 feet above the current maximums for the 10th Ave E neighbors of the project — helps the development plan make space for community goals driven by the city’s design framework while providing enough units for developers to profit and provide affordable and low-income housing in the project.
Of the more than 400 units possible across the five sites, the plan currently calls for 36% to achieve the city’s affordable housing mark — 50% of the area’s median income, or around $30,000 per year for a one-person household. The total could climb to 46% if Site D is developed in conjunction with Seattle Central Community College as student housing. The agreement mostly leaves how these affordability goals are achieved to the bidding developers but there are stipulations. Site B’s north section on 10th Ave E at E John, for example, is required in the agreement to be developed as a low-income project for households making 50% or less of median income.
Parking and retail
Despite their residency above a sparkly new public transportation hub, the people living in these future developments will indeed have parking options. The agreement does not prohibit inclusion of residential parking and limited retail parking by the bidding developers. Physical space will be one constraint as the light rail station box below ground will prevent multiple levels of underground parking. The agreement does prohibit development of parking for transit riders. Meanwhile, it is expected there will be space for 266 bike stalls as part of the developments.
The sites also present a combined injection of 45,000 square-feet of retail into the area with the plan calling for tall first-floor windows for what is hoped to be a premier Broadway street level commerce opportunity.
Farmers market, pass-throughs and a community center
The coordinated plan also calls for developers to make room for a new home for the Broadway Farmers Market in a central plaza. The privately owned space will be required to provide public access 16 hours a day, per the agreement. CHS has reported on the plans for the new market space and hopes the farmers market can expand to be part of the plaza year-round and on multiple days of the week.
The plaza will connect with a transformed E Denny Way that will be restricted to westbound traffic only and redesigned as a festival street for events where activity can spill over from the market plaza.
The agreement also lays groundwork for mid-block crossings through the buildings designed to connect Broadway more completely with nearby Cal Anderson. Like the plaza, the pass-throughs will be private property required to be open to the public 16 hours a day. 10th Ave E, meanwhile, will see “green street” improvements as developers will face design requirements calling for ground floor housing with stoops.
Those “hopes for a (really tall?) LGBTQ civic center” in the project are still alive and well. The agreement calls for bidders to be awarded bonus points for including plans for a “community center” as their proposals are quantitatively measured. Officials say what exactly a community center entails is still to be hammered out but CHS reported on this City of Seattle recommendation that an LGBTQ facility be included in the light rail development and a group spearheading an effort to create such a center was awarded a $7,000 grant earlier this year.
You can see how other community priorities are reflected in the agreement requirements in this diagram. Click for the larger viewing options.
Following the September 24th community meeting, a host of public process follows including a possible series of public hearings on the agreement before the City Council can give the deal its stamp of approval. If all goes well, the “request for quotation” call can go out to start the new year. Further into the future, the public process will start again with a simplified design review allowing community input on the designs brought forward by winning bidders. The near-term schedule is below. For all of the fine print and nuts and bolts, read through the 15-page Draft Term Sheet (PDF). You can review all the Capitol Hill Station transit oriented development documents here. We’ve embedded the Coordinated Develop Plan document, below.