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School has work cut out for it putting light rail land to use for 105-foot Broadway tower

Seattle Central and Sound Transit are poised to move forward with a process that will determine the fate of the first of four sites the transit agency plans to sell to developers around the under-construction Capitol Hill light rail station.

Thursday, a public hearing will be held to discuss the sale of “Site D” to the school. The lot on the western side of Broadway is currently being used by Sound Transit as construction offices for the light rail project. You might remember it as a Mongolian Grill restaurant before it was acquired and demolished.

“The agency is seeking public comment on a proposal to sell two parcels consisting of approximately 10,000 square feet of surplus land at the Capitol Hill light rail station site to Seattle Central Community College,” a Sound Transit statement on the hearing reads.

“Transactions are contingent on ongoing discussions and future approvals by the Sound Transit Board and Seattle Central Community College.” With the possibility of some portions of the “transit oriented development” around Capitol Hill Station reaching 85 feet, Seattle Central’s institutional zoning could open up the Site D property for a student tower reaching even greater heights of up to 105 feet.

Seattle Central has been eying the parcel and paid Sound Transit $500,000 for exclusive negotiating rights for the property and all properties “located adjacent to and surrounding the westerly light rail tunnel entrance,” according to a recently released feasibility analysis.

Public Hearing 

Disposal of Surplus Real Property to a Public Agency 
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 
12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. 
Union Station 
Ruth Fisher Boardroom 
401 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104

The 12:30 PM portion of Thursday’s hearing will be dedicated solely to Site D. It will be followed by a 1:30 PM meeting of the Sound Transit board’s capital committee to vote on declaring sites A, B, C and D “surplus property” — a necessary step to unlock the development process we described in full here.

CHS recently reported that the school is also considering a plan to work with Capitol Hill Housing to pursue development of student housing on another Broadway parcel it already owns adjacent to the Neighbours dance club.

For more on the sites, see Capitol Hill Station development: 85′ high, 400+ units, $40 million

The school is currently working with Schreiber Starling and Lane, an architectural firm, in creating a new master plan for the school which will be required to go through with the acquisition. Many projects on the school’s most recent 2009 development plan have not yet been achieved. The feasibility analysis of Site D development raises several challenges the school will have to overcome if it hopes to get building, the biggest of which are time and money.

“ST has rules regarding timely performance as a qualification for development of the SS at the CHS. Timing is a deal breaker for ST,” the surprisingly frank analysis reads. “It takes several years for a community college to solicit and accumulate donations. The SCC Power and Promise district funding campaign started in 2006 called for $25 million, which took three years to gather the money.”

Another worry according to the feasibility analysis is community opposition to a 105-foot tower along Broadway.

“If SCCC asked for additional height over 40’ on the Lot zoned NC3P-40, this process could trigger community conflict, stall the development process even on site D, and extend the time needed to accomplish rezoning,” says the analysis. According to the analysis, the 2009 roster of projects were limited by concerns “citizen involvement might include recommendations that limit SCCC campus expansion on Broadway.”

Those unable to attend the hearing or board meeting can submit feedback in writing:

Sound Transit Board 
c/o Board Administrator
Sound Transit
401 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104

Send email to all Board members

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7 thoughts on “School has work cut out for it putting light rail land to use for 105-foot Broadway tower

  1. I am certainly not against the sensible development of Capitol Hill, as more development means more jobs; however, I am troubled by how SCCC suddenly has the money for this proposed land acquisition, but could not find the money to maintain and support the programmes and classes it has cut in the last three years, notably its acclaimed Film and Video department.

    If SCCC wishes to become a state university, it should endeavour to do so in the interest of not merely expanding its real estate portfolio, but to perhaps receive the funding necessary to restore the programmes it got rid of.

  2. Higher building heights = more classroom space = more students with access to an affordable college education in Seattle. The waiting list to get into Seattle Central Community College is already too long and in the next 10 years more people will want to go because they cannot get into classes at the UW or they cannot afford the tuition hikes at a four year university. 105 feet is not ridiculous for the urban core of a major city. I wish people in Seattle were a little less afraid of density and building heights near major transit hubs like the Capitol Hill light rail station and a little more afraid of the environmental and quality-of-life consequences of discouraging density in a sprawled out city.

  3. There is nothing troubling about this. Capital costs and operating costs are typically in different budgets for most institutions. The funds for each often come from different sources, and the money in one fund cannot be used to pay for property or operations supported by the other. While the school might be lean on operating money, it might have a capital fund specifically for this sort of purchase, and the school likely cannot use the capital funds for operating costs.

  4. On the whole I tend to be cautious about over development but in this case there are a bunch of neighborhood goals that could be achieved and SCCC on the whole has been a great institutional member of our community.

    Goals such as:

    Developing the southern end of Broadway

    Increasing affordable housing — really tremendous for students as they are being being priced out

    building transit oriented development — they really won’t need to own cars

    I’m surprised that the lot is NC-40 and isn’t NC-65 as much of the west slope of the Hill is. Maybe it was something that the college pressed for years ago, to try to not have a tall building beside it?

    In exchange for the increase in building height though I think we should request that SCCC also make space available on its campus for a childcare center. They had one, they closed it — and guess what — we and their student body still need it.

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