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Finally, light at end of the tunnels for rules governing requirements for Capitol Hill Station development

8446655114_a99ac40e5d_bSometime in the next few hours, a Capitol Hill light rail trip about 18 months behind schedule — depending on how you count it — will finally leave the station.

This week, a “Seattle Land Use Information Bulletin” is slated to be issued signaling the last few stops before completion of of legislation crafted by Sound Transit and the Seattle City Council to shape the rules by which more than two acres of prime Broadway real estate can be sold to developers. Its future as “transit oriented development” is hoped to include 85-foot tall mixed-use buildings adding more than 400 units of housing with a goal for nearly 40% of that to be “affordable” — available to renters making less than half of the area’s median income.

“We have been pushing the last couple months to get this to City Council,” Capitol Hill Community Council representative Cathy Hillenbrand said earlier this month. “It needs to get done before August recess.”

7981074759_c68a78a476_b (1) 7981074701_95d561f819_bEven with its imminent arrival, the banging out of the draft legislation appears to be nearly 18 months behind initial plans to have an agreement in place in time for some development to be complete with the new Capitol Hill station comes online in late 2016. While construction of the light rail tunnels and station is reportedly on schedule — and under budget — the transit oriented development component will have to gel quickly in order for the ground around Capitol Hill station to be filled with anything but construction vehicles come the first light rail trips under Broadway.

City Council planning and land use committee head Richard Conlin confirmed that the process to finalize the legislation would begin soon saying that the Council was “down to one remaining issue between the City and Sound Transit.”

Sound Transit officials don’t seem too worried about the timing. “Considering it’s basically a keystone for the ultimate buildout, it has to be done right,” a spokesperson tells CHS about the deliberate pace on the Sound Transit side of things. “That’s why everyone involved is taking such a deliberate approach.”

Sound Transit also hasn’t exactly had a lot of free time lately. The effort to pound out an agreement for its East Link route through Bellevue likely burned a few lifetimes of bureaucratic effort.

The spokesperson said that this time next year will likely reveal much more about just how much of the development work will be complete — if any — by 2016.

There are also high demands on Capitol Hill. The Capitol Hill Station Urban Design Framework that proponents like Hillenbrand and the Capitol Hill Champion group have been working to push forward in the process is a relatively agressive document for a community-shaped process. Shaped by neighborhood goals of 50% of the project qualifying as affordable housing, how the final legislation shakes out will be interesting to see.

With the restart of the political process around shaping the station development, the community effort to inform and help shape the final steps in the development requirements also begins anew. A community forum is slated for May 20th:

What’s gonna’ go up when the Red Wall comes down?

Save the Date…
Monday May 20 5:30 PM

Broadway Performance Hall
The Capitol Hill Champion invites you:
Be involved in the Next Steps!
Find out what they are and how you can participate
Community Catch-up and Conversation


May 20th, 2013 at the Broadway Performance Hall
5:30pm Social hour
6pm-8pm Presentations and Discussion

Refreshments and Kids table will be provided
Questions and sign-up for list-serv:

UPDATE: The bulletin has been posted. Here is the announcement from the city. We have embedded the full “director’s report” on the plan at the bottom of this post that outlines the requirements including the increased height, low parking maximums, affordable housing thresholds and a streamlined design review process.

Development agreement proposed for Capitol Hill light rail station sites

In October of 2011, the Urban Design Framework for the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station Sites was finalized. The Framework articulated a vision of the community for the redevelopment of the station sites, offering development guidance and design guidance to the future developers of the station sites. Shortly after the Framework was finalized, City and Sound Transit staff began negotiations on the terms of a development agreement that if approved by both the City and Sound Transit Board would outline development standards for the station sites that that vary from otherwise applicable development regulations in order to achieve goals outlined in the Framework. Those terms were outlined in a term sheet in October 2012 that describes the intended commitments by the City and Sound Transit to follow some of the development guidance offered in the Urban Design Framework.

The proposed development agreement has been drafted and will be considered by the Seattle City Council later this summer. Site-specific design guidelines that describe the design guidance are also proposed to be adopted by Seattle City Council. On May 13, 2013, the City published the SEPA determination and SEPA checklist on the legislation that recommends approval of the development agreement and site-specific design guidelines. Other documents available include the proposed legislation, the SEPA notice, the Director’s Report andSound Transit’s Coordinated Development Plan (revised May 2013).

Legislation documents:
Proposed legislation
Proposed development agreement
Proposed site-specific design guidelines

Director’s Report

SEPA documents:
SEPA notice
SEPA checklist
SEPA determination

Other referenced documents:
Urban Design Framework
Sound Transit Coordinated Development Plan (revised May 2013)

Capitol Hill Light Rail Station Sites Directors Report

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6 thoughts on “Finally, light at end of the tunnels for rules governing requirements for Capitol Hill Station development

    • MFTE refers to the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program – this is an affordable housing program created at the State level and implemented by local jurisdictions – details here –

      The parameters are set by the State of Washington. In this instance, the City and Sound Transit have agreed to REQUIRE developers on the light rail site to include 20% MFTE units for 12 years minimum in their market-rate buldings – normally this program is voluntary, and buildings can opt out before 12 years. It’s only a 12 year program, but there are incentives for developers to extend the years or to increase the % of units in their buildings

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